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Industry-wide initiative to protect actors from mental health problems

Paul Bhattacharjee (right), whose suicide has prompted a new initiative to raise awareness of mental health problems in the industry. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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A series of high-profile suicides among actors has prompted the launch of a new initiative aimed at raising the awareness of stress and mental wellbeing in the entertainment sector.

Arts and Minds is a joint initiative between Spotlight, Equity and The Stage which has been set up following the deaths of actors Richard Gent, Briony McRoberts and Paul Bhattacharjee.

It aims to raise awareness about the stress that can be experienced by people working in the industry and to highlight where people can seek support. Posters will be put up in theatres showing people where they can seek help, including from bodies such as The Samaritans and charity Mind.

As part of Arts and Minds, this year’s Edinburgh Fringe features a space called the Sanctuary, which offers performers taking part in the festival “a calm, quiet place within Fringe Central, where participants can get away from things”.

Louise Grainger, from Equity, explained that the space had been created following meetings held at the fringe last year by the union’s east of Scotland branch, which explored issues
relating to stress in the sector.

In addition, she said two motions at Equity’s annual conference this year had raised the matter of mental health in the industry, which she said showed “fellow artists’ concern about the vulnerability of performers and the need for increased awareness”.

At the Sanctuary, performers will be able to access specialist support from one to one conversations.

The Sanctuary will run on August 10, 13 and 21 from 10.30 to 5pm at Fringe Central


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