UK Backstage Entertainment Industry Mental Health Awareness Report 2019

The team behind the ground-breaking ‘Blackout’ installation are pleased to release the results of the “UK Backstage Entertainment Industry’s Evaluation on Mental Health Awareness”.

This pioneering study was launched alongside the acclaimed 6-minute immersive experience at PLASA Olympia in September.  The Academic analysis was conducted by Dr Paul Hanna, Research Director in Clinical Psychology at the University of Surrey, who has been working with the core creative team since they launched the installation in May at The Guildford School of Acting.

Mental Health problems are becoming more prevalent in contemporary society. Work and employment show consistent links with Mental Health and Wellbeing. The Technical Backstage Entertainment Industry is one employment context with a specific set of demands on its workforce. This evaluation provides an insight into mental health prevalence, attitudes, and support within the UK Technical Backstage Entertainment Industry. 

With mental health problems affecting 1 in 4 people in any given year, and workplaces offering both the possibility to accentuate or potentially help such issues, mental health in the workplace is an important issue for contemporary societies. Commissioned by five Technical Backstage Entertainment Industry Organisations -  PLASA, ALD, ASD ABTT and PSA - this evaluation sought to establish mental health prevalence rates, working conditions and mental health, stigma and attitudes towards mental health, and mental health support within the Technical Backstage Entertainment Industry.

Presenting the analysis of quantitative data obtained from 1302 individuals working/training in the Technical Backstage Entertainment Industry the evaluation found the following key items:

  • 58.7% of the sample stated that they currently, or have previously had, a mental health problem.
  • Mental health disproportionately affecting more females (71.1%) in the sample than males (54.2%).
  • Individuals under the age of 45 reported proportionately more current or previous mental health problems than any other age groups.
  • 54.5% of participants stated that they had their mental health issue before starting work in the industry
  • Working conditions within the industry were seen to contribute to mental health problems.
  • Participants reported high rates of mental health stigma (69.8%) and experiences of negative attitudes (59.8%) towards mental health within the industry.
  • Those with a current or previous mental health issue reported higher rates of stigma and negative attitudes than those without mental health issues.
  • The NHS and private healthcare providers were the main source of support for mental health issues with little awareness of industry specific support.
  • Access to support was seen as the most important factor to enable individuals to cope with mental health difficulties.
  • 69.5% of individuals felt that they would be able to recognise if a colleague was suffering from mental health difficulties.
  • 66.6% felt capable to help a colleague if they disclosed a mental health issue to them.
  • Understanding, awareness and education were also seen as most important factors to enable helping others.
  • 50% of the sample were aware of mental health first aid training, 80 participants had undertaken the training. 


Mig Burgess, who headed up the Blackout project:

I am thrilled that as many as 1300 of our colleagues have contributed to this important survey.  We are so lucky to have Paul working with us on this evalution and its been a life long goal to gain more insight into mental health issues within the backstage industry I love so much.  The data collected is 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 comments:

This mental health evaluation of the UK Technical Backstage Entertainment Industry represents a very important first step in gaining a better understanding of mental health within the 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 Blackout project, which was seeded by major players in the backstage entertainment industry, will be working on further initiatives with this project in 2020 and an even more wide-ranging study.  


The full report and findings can be found here: