Incorporating the Variety Artistes' Federation
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Mental Health support for members - Arts & Minds initiative

Our branch's campaign to increase access to Mental Health support for our members, and was inspired in part by this article in the Guardian last year:

Paul Bhattacharjee and Cory Monteith deaths: is acting today just too tough?
http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/jul/23/paul-bhattacharjee-cory-monteith-acting

We submitted the following motion to Equity's 2014 Annual Representative Conference:

This conference recognises that certain members can be affected by depression and other mental health problems. In the worst cases this has resulted in the death of some members due to suicide and/or substance abuse. This conference is aware that more could be done by the union to support members struggling in this way. Therefore we call upon Council to establish and promote a portal within the union’s existing forms of communication, in order to provide information and links to established organisations that can offer help, which will allow student and full members to rapidly access free or affordable mental health assistance.

Assistant branch secretary, Philippa Howard, spoke excellently in favour of the motion and was was lauded by one Equity Councillor as being the best speech he’d ever heard at an ARC!

Our branch's motion was passed with a massive majority. You can find a report from The Stage here: www.thestage.co.uk/news/2014/05/suicides-among-actors-prompt-calls-mental-health-support/

Following recommendations from Equity staff, Equity Council have agreed the following action:

AGREED ACTION: This motion is in concert with the Arts & Minds work the union is already doing with the Stage and Spotlight and mental health organisations and professionals, as reported to Council in the Autumn of 2013. An online Arts & Minds resource is currently being worked on. To develop a plan of action to take this motion forward the Marketing, Events and Training Officer will meet with a representative of the Bristol and West General Branch, a representative of the East of Scotland General Branch and the current and former Equity representatives on BAPAM.

It means a great deal to members of our branch that the response from Council was quick and decisive and goes a long way to help us illustrate how the mechanism of ARC motions can work. The branch also conciders that inviting both us and East Scotland, after all their hard work on compiling their report on mental health within the industry (“Sometimes we are treated quite well”: Mental Health, Stress & Distress In the Entertainment Industry), shows a lot of thought.

The annoucement of this news at our July 2014 branch meeting sparked a debate that revealed we have people experienced in various therapies and allowed everyone to share that many more are suffering and that as isolated workers our union can in some way support members - and that it should.

We thank Equity staff and Council for their response and we look forward to sending a representative to the meeting regarding BAPAM

Campaign Links

12-04-2012 Former Bill actor Colin Tarrant killed himself BBC NEWS
27-07-2013 Paul Bhattacharjee and Cory Monteith deaths: is acting today just too tough? THE GUARDIAN
07-04-2014 Inquest into death of actor Richard Gent records suicide verdict THE STAGE
22-05-2014 Suicides among actors prompt calls for mental health support THE STAGE
31-07-2014 The Arts and Minds Initiative SPOTLIGHT
07-08-2014 Industry-wide initiative to protect actors from mental health problems THE STAGE
06-09-2014 Will Mellor: In The Club helped me beat depression after unemployment and sister's death DAILY MIRROR

HELP AND SUPPORT

Members are encouraged to seek support and advice from the following organisations:

BAPAMBritish Association for Performing Arts Medicine T: 020 7404 5888
Samaritans T: 08457 90 90 90
SANE
Mind T: 0300 123 3393

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