Mental Health in the Entertainment Industry
Constantly checking email, social media, and responding to texts, working 60+ hour weeks, and somehow still wondering how you're going to come up with enough money to pay rent. It's no wonder the entertainment industry sees a high burnout rate among its valiant and driven workers. In an article published at the beginning of 2015, Forbes ranked the top 10 most stressful jobs of the year with roughly half of the jobs listed being in the entertainment industry. Whether you're an actor/actress, event coordinator, or what have you, working in entertainment is a stressful business. But don't take my word for it– just ask Lady Gaga.
A few months ago, Lady Gaga, or Stefani Germanotta, spoke at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence in which she discussed why she was tempted to quit the music business a couple years ago. Citing concerns such as selling her image for profit, responding to text messages in just the right, inauthentic manner, and constantly having to smile and shake hands, to name a few, Germanotta explained how all these factors combined actually increased her stress levels and chipped away at her overall happiness.
Germanotta, who suffers from depression and anxiety, spoke at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence about her foundation, the Born This Way Foundation, a non-profit started by Germanotta and her mother in 2012. The Born This Way Foundation seeks to create a "kinder and braver world" by promoting mental health and well-being among young people and by sharing powerful stories, research, and partnerships. Germanotta realized the need for this organization when struggling to come to terms with her own experience with depression and anxiety. Ultimately Stefani realized she was born the way she is and that she can't change that but she can work with it in a healthy way; this is exactly the kind of message she hopes to inspire with the Born This Way Foundation.
At the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Germanotta said she takes antidepressant medication prescribed by her doctor, but she also practices alternative methods of alleviating depression and anxiety such as meditation, acupuncture, and, yes, even prayer sometimes. But at the end of the day, Stefani said the most powerful tactic she has discovered so far is being able to identify what is causing her unhappiness and simply saying no.
While depression and anxiety are certainly more serious and different from mere burnout, these words still ring true for all people working in entertainment (or anywhere): stay true to yourself and don't allow other people to take advantage of you. Even Lady Gaga, one of the biggest pop stars of this decade, has moments where she needs to take a moment, think, and say no if need be. Perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad idea if we all learned a lesson from her example.