The team behind the Blackout installation have released the results of the UK Backstage Entertainment Industry’s Evaluation on Mental Health Awareness.

The study was launched alongside the 6-minute immersive experience at the PLASA Show, held at London Olympia in September 2019. Funded by PLASA, the ALD, the ASD, the ABTT and the PSA, the academic analysis was conducted by research director in clinical psychology at the University of Surrey, Dr Paul Hanna. Hanna has worked closely with Blackout’s creative team since the installation launched in May 2019 at The Guildford School of Acting.

According to the survey, mental health issues are more than twice as common among those working in the UK technical, backstage and entertainment industry than the national average with more than half (58.7%) of those surveyed admitting to suffering from a mental health problem, whilst the UK national average prevalence rate is 25%.

Women were reportedly more often affected, with 71.1% of females stating they currently have, or previously had, a mental health problem compared to 54.2% of males. Working in the industry itself was seen to be a contributing factor, with 45.5% of those surveyed stating that they did not have a mental health issue before starting work in the industry.

Lead of the Blackout project, Mig Burgess, said: “I am thrilled that as many as 1,300 of our colleagues have contributed to this important survey. We are so lucky to have Paul working with us on this evaluation and it’s been a life-long goal of mine to gain more insight into mental health issues within the backstage industry I love so much.

The data collected results in a fascinating read, and I look forward to working with Paul and the amazing associations and industry bodies that helped to fund the study, to see if we can implement actions that can help to promote awareness and reduce stigma around mental health.”

Dr Paul Hanna added: “This evaluation represents a very important first step in gaining a better understanding of mental health within the UK’s technical backstage entertainment industry. The industry itself has a specific set of demands on its employees, due to the nature of the work undertaken, and the nature of the entertainment industry more generally, so it was important to establish an overview of mental health prevalence, attitudes and support within the industry.

“The industry is taking mental health very seriously, something represented by the commissioning of this report amongst many other initiatives, and whilst the report highlights many areas of improvement, the positive approach to mental health from leading industry bodies is particularly promising. I look forward to working with the industry over the coming years to help support a more positive approach to mental health for all involved in the industry”

The full report is available here.