CARING FOR OUR MEMBERS’ MENTAL WELLBEING
The MEAA Entertainment Wellness Committee (EWC) brings together performers, crew and creatives to raise awareness, create resources and build community as they tackle mental health and wellbeing issues associated with our industry. Here, some of the EWC members share their reasons for involvement.
“The entertainment industry is tough! Increasingly, during filming weeks, 12- to 18-hour days are not uncommon. We also check and reply to emails well after leaving the workplace, eat our lunches at our computers and do not take proper breaks. This can cause physical exhaustion, mental fatigue, burn-out and depression. Add to the mix people’s heightened emotions, due to stress and lack of sleep, and you have a very inhospitable workplace. I have seen so many hardworking, experienced and dedicated people walk away from the industry as it ‘broke’ them. I believe that we need to take care of ourselves and each other better. If we can identify wellness risk factors, conduct conversations and apply adjustments within the workforce, we can have a fulfilling and productive workplace, and a more appropriate work-life balance.” Tess O’Flaherty
“A few years ago, when I was battling depression and beginning to spiral, it was my family, friends and colleagues who gave me the resilience and love to better cope and, ultimately, heal. Equity is family, we support each other, and the EWC is a fantastic initiative to organise resources and offer a wide embrace to all those who may need it.” Stuart Halusz
“I joined the EWC when it began and have been utterly inspired ever since. As an actor and psychologist, I want a world where the wellbeing and mental health of people in the creative and performing arts is honoured − where students, teachers, crew, cast and other professionals are equipped with the knowledge of how their brains work, how their bodies respond and what they can do about it.” Simon Ward
Matt Young, a Queensland-based actor and acting coach, brings his lived experience of suicide bereavement to the EWC, having lost his brother in 2010. He is a certified Mental Health First Aider, instructed by Ben Steel, and represents fellow members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Through his Tukuna Acting Club, he advocates for safe and healthy spaces for diverse actors to train and work in Australia.
Aimee Davies is a creative industries counsellor and founder of The Hey Mate Project. She joined the EWC in 2020, while searching for a community that was passionate about supporting the mental wellbeing of the creative industry. EWC has provided an opportunity for Aimee to connect with like-minded members of the community working towards improving industry, while creating connection and understanding. As an active member of the committee, she has supported a variety of initiatives, including Mental Health First Aid, Mental Wellbeing Consultation, Awakening Wellness and representing EWC at community events.
Tim Minturn is a performer based in Melbourne and has been an Equity member for 26 years. Diagnosed with brain cancer in 1999 during the original tour of The Boy from Oz, Tim’s journey of health and wellness has seen many changes of direction. Over the years, he has seen colleagues take their lives, and it wasn’t until Tim had to deal with his own mental health that he realised the importance of support, understanding and awareness. His desire to do more brought him to the EWC.
The committee welcomes our newest members: Merryn Schofield, Tim Minturn, Tess O’Flaherty, Kieran Cato, Ngaire Pigram, Tiffany Lyndall-Knight, Glenn Hazeldine, Nick Maclaine, Matt Young, Nadia Samson and Sophie Carter.
It’s that time of year again!
The annual Entertainment Wellness Challenge will take place from September 5–11, coinciding with #RUOKday. This year the theme is joy with seven days of joyful challenges brought to you by industry guests and your Entertainment Wellness Committee. Register for access to the Wellness Challenge guide and join your arts and community to find more joy every day.