On the surface, working in the music industry seems like an ideal for many people. If you’re a performer, it’s spending your days writing songs and zig-zagging between studios, for promoters it’s the crazy, haphazard situations involved with bringing a huge act into town, as for roadies, we all know the Motörhead song.

But according to a new pilot study out of Victoria University, behind all the apparent glitz and glamour is a darkness that no one’s talking about. According to researchers, Australia’s 25,000 entertainment industry workers are more likely to suffer from mental health issues.

Workers in the entertainment industry are paid significantly less than the rest of the community and have higher rates of suicide, due to what the study concluded was a work environment that is “unhealthy, often divisive, competitive and lacking social support”.

“There are strong indicators these creative workers have a disproportionate rate of mental health issues,” researchers write, via The Age. Entertainment Assist, a charity that helps people working in the industry, launched the study after the Australian Road Crew Collective identified 70 roadies who had died prematurely, many from suspected suicide.

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The Pratt Foundation funded the study, which was completed by Dr Julie van den Eynde, Professor Adrian Fisher, and Associate Professor Christopher Sonn of Vic Uni, who interviewed entertainment industry workers across three designated employment groups.

The first group consisted of performing artists and composers, group two consisted of support workers, including producers and directors, and group three was made up of equipment operators, including camera, audio, and lighting technicians, as well as roadies.

Results were worrying for each group. Over half of the performing artists and composers identified a culture of “criticism”, “external and internal bullying”, “professional jealousy”, and the pressure of “being beautiful” as negative characteristics of their workplaces.

Meanwhile, one in three reported seeking professional help for mental health issues and a quarter said they had attempted suicide or experienced “suicide ideation”. For roadies and equipment operators, more than half had considered suicide or had suicidal thoughts, but none had sought help.

“One of the things that came through pretty clearly in our work, through some very detailed and systematic interviews, was an unhealthy work environment throughout all aspects of the entertainment industry,” said Professor Fisher.

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“There are clear patterns of suicide, of suicide ideation and thoughts, especially for performers whose careers are in decline, and as a result of the professional and financial pressures that exist. It is an area we are worried about and need to research further.”

The report also highlighted wage disparity between the entertainment industry and the wider population. Performing artists reportedly receive an average income of $44,600 per year, support workers just $39,300, and workers in group three $64,440 per year. This is compared to the average Australian salary of $78,800, according to the ABS.

While the initial sample utilised by researchers was small, the Pratt Foundation has provided funding to begin the second phase of the research, which will be the most extensive study of entertainment industry workers undertaken anywhere in the world.

“Over the next few weeks we are looking for 3000 people to take part in the study by Victoria University,” Susan Cooper, general manager of Entertainment Assist, told Fairfax. “We are telling people in the industry this is your one and only chance to make a difference and take part.”

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