Find out how to access specialist support for your mental health

Mental Health

Working and building your career in the creative industries is not easy. It can impact on your emotional and mental health.

That’s why we work with mental health experts at the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM), who specialise in working with people in the creative industries.

They can provide you with the help you need when you need it. Find out how you can access support, whether you're currently in work or looking for work. You can also find out about how we’re working to improve mental health across the performing arts industry through the five demands of our Mental Health Charter.

Specialist support through BAPAM

From January 2023, the existing Scheme for Equity members set up during the pandemic to support mental health, has been modified to reflect the return to the workplace and meet significant increase in demand.

The new Scheme will support members who are suffering from workplace stress or a traumatic incident in the workplace, and where there is no employers mental health support scheme in place.

The Scheme combines some limited one to one counselling for members who have developed a significant mental health problem as a direct result of their work, with broader access to a weekly psychological support group, led by a BAPAM psychotherapist experienced working with creative practitioners. This is intended to support a greater number of members needing help.

Many Engagers in Theatre, Opera, Ballet, Film and TV do have Assistance Schemes that can be accessed by their workforce, so check first whether you can access this provision, before approaching BAPAM.

Equity Mental Health Support Scheme

To access the Equity Mental Health Support Scheme, members can contact our partners, BAPAM, the specialist UK charity providing expert healthcare for creative practitioners. BAPAM’s clinical team will work with members to assess their health needs before providing further advice, psychological support, and in some circumstances, up to six sessions of individual therapy.  

Equity Psychological Support Group

Held online over 6 weeks, with groups starting every month, each support group meets for 60 minute sessions led by a BAPAM psychotherapist and a member of BAPAM’s support team. Sessions my involve up to 15 members.

How will the group help?  

Guided by a BAPAM psychotherapist, each session provides content, resources and exercises with peer support. The group is a safe space to discuss support needs and goals, meet other people going though similar situations in their creative work, and develop techniques and strategies to manage stress, anxiety, depression and low mood, low self-esteem, self-doubt and negative thoughts. Sessions also explore skills for building relationships, creativity and motivation, and consider authenticity and identity in the performing arts environment.

Individual therapy for Equity members – up to six sessions

Individual therapy, to address mental health problems experienced as a direct result of their work, can be accessed by a limited number of members who fulfil the criteria set by the Union. Where the criteria are not met, or short-term counselling is not appropriate, or there are insufficient therapeutic placements currently available, BAPAM will give mental health crisis information, recommend suitable NHS services and provide information for GPs, and inform members about other charities and services who may be able to help. Where appropriate, you will be offered a place on the Equity Psychological Support Group while you navigate the NHS system.

Get in touch with BAPAM by email or call them on 020 8167 4775.

Go to the BAPAM website

If your workplace is affecting your mental or physical health

You should be treated with dignity at work, both in the hiring process and in your place of work. If at any stage of getting work or being in work, your employer (or prospective employer) is failing to provide a workspace that is safe, Equity can help. Call Equity on 020 7379 6000 to speak to someone confidentially. If your health issue arises from a non-workplace related matter, contact BAPAM.

Contact your Equity official now

What we’re doing to change the industry

Our Mental Health Charter has five key demands to improve mental health across the performing arts industry. We seek to do this by bringing about deep-rooted structural reform. This includes producers and engagers addressing the harmful impacts of precarious work by improving pay and work-life balance, and adopting relevant safeguards in the workplace, such as mental health risk assessments, safe spaces policies and consultation on organisational change.

We launched the charter in response to our landmark global scoping review that found a clear trend for increased mental health concerns across the performing arts. There are a range of contributing factors, but it’s clear that the harmful impacts of precarious work, low pay and poor working conditions are fuelling this collective crisis.

Mental Health Charter

Our Mental Health Charter has five key demands to improve mental health across the performing arts industry.