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The Initiative

As the worldwide conversation on mental health has grown, so too has the conversation within our industry. We are learning more about the dimensions of the problem and the depths of people’s pain and despair, and the role that the unique stresses, demands and culture of our industry play. The time has clearly come for all of us to take an active role in fighting the stigma associated with mental illness and to offer a helping hand to our colleagues who are struggling with issues such as anxiety, depression, harassment, or addiction.

The goal of this initiative is to provide easily accessible information, tools and resources to members of the entertainment industry that will:

  • Make it easier for individuals to self-identify issues and seek help in early stage as well as crisis situations
  • Increase industry members’ confidence about how to reach out and provide assistance to individuals in need of support
  • Help employers and supervisors become effective leaders in changing the culture regarding mental health, identifying and supporting at-risk individuals, responding to a mental health crisis such as suicide or accidental overdose, and reintegrating individuals who have been impacted by a mental health or substance misuse crisis back into the workplace

Behind the Scenes partnered with Vibrant Emotional Health, whose programs include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, in the initial stages of developing this initiative.

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The Steering Committee

Joining Behind the Scenes in developing this initiative are a group of individuals and organizations with relevant expertise and experience and a deep commitment to improve the quality of life for those working in the entertainment industry.

Raul Argudin
Human Resources Compliance and Regulatory Manager, The Broadway League
Shelley Bibby
Business Agent, IATSE Local 849
Tony DePaulo
Retired international Vice President and Retired Co-Director of Stagecraft Department, IATSE
Rosalyn Gilbert,  LCSW, BCD
Supervisor of Addiction and Recovery Services, Entertainment Community Fund
Alison Heiser, LPC, LMHC
Open Heart Counseling
Tammy Honesty
Associate Professor  of Scenic Design, West Virginia University
Bryan Huneycutt
Principal, HuneyBadger Entertainment Consulting
Jennifer Leff, LCSW
Managing Director, Human Services, MusiCares

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Taryn Elizabeth Longo
The Mastery Studio
Greg Petruska
Director Environmental Health and Safety, NBCUniversal
Naomi Rodda, MSW, LCSW
Director of Home & Community Based Services, Motion Picture and Television Fund
Christine Rossi-Wright
Senior Program Worker, AFC
Lori Rubinstein
Executive Director, Behind the Scenes Foundation
Samantha Squeri
Director of Theatre Production and Finance, NBC Universal and Independent Producer
Samantha E. Stepleton, MSW, LCSW
Director of Social Services, Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation
Pat White
Department Director, Education and Training, IATSE

The Survey

In the fall of 2019, Behind the Scenes conducted an industry-wide survey to get a sense of how many people in the industry are experiencing anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, problems with alcohol/substance misuse, or reactions to traumatic events. The response from the industry was incredible, with over 3400 people completing the survey. We were amazed by the sheer number and candor of people who shared their stories with us about personal challenges and struggles or those of friends and family.

The information provided is proving invaluable as we begin the development of this initiative. It is helping us to understand the issues industry members face and the obstacles that might prevent them or those they care about from seeking and utilizing mental health resources.

An initial look at the survey results confirmed what many already knew – that the long hours, pressures of deadlines, lack of resources, and uncertainty of employment have taken a very hard toll on our industry. These affect not only mental health, but physical health as well, and impact relationships with family and friends. Unsurprisingly, over 90% of respondents have experienced anxiety while over 80% have suffered from depression.

What is also apparent from the responses, and very encouraging, is that many individuals want to step up and help colleagues they feel are struggling but simply don’t know how and are very concerned about making things worse. Our goal is to provide information and resources that will give industry members the confidence to act.

It’s not too late to add your voice to those who responses are helping to define the tools and resources developed for this initiative. If you’d like to take the survey, please click here.

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