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It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

Michael S. Eddy • Current IssueEditor's NoteSeptember 2020 • September 2, 2020

Welcome to the September issue of Stage Directions magazine. While we hope that you are all doing well and staying safe and healthy through these erratic times, we know that everyone in the theater community’s experience is unique to their circumstances and the level of disruption to their professional and personal lives. Here, in the pages of Stage Directions and on our website we look to support you through offering information and resources as well as news to keep us all connected. We also thank you all for your continued support of our work by sharing your stories with us and by reading our issues, website and newsletter as well as following our social media.

Something we have been hearing from many within the industry is the need to be okay about acknowledging that things are bad right now. It is in fact, really bad for many of our colleagues. As the optimistic, problem-solving, can-do theater makers we all are, we also need to really understand that right now we don’t have the solutions to all the challenges our colleagues are facing but we can, and should, still be there and be supportive. 

We’re starting our sixth month of being in mostly shutdown of live theater. This time apart—and away from working and attending theater—has been very wearing on people. Creatively, financially and emotionally wearing. There has been a rise in anxiety, depression, and suicide. Anyone can have these feelings and you should feel no shame about seeking out help and treatment. If you need some extra support, someone to speak with, or a therapist, there are resources available. Here are some mental health resources currently available from the Actors Fund and Behind the Scenes.

The Actors Fund has help available for ANY performing arts or entertainment professional. They have licensed clinicians that can help industry professionals and their families deal with and provide ongoing support services.

The Behind the Scenes Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Initiative launched Be Scene – Be Heard, a 24/7/365 anonymous, peer-to-peer chat app for those who work behind the scenes. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to people who don’t know you, but who can relate because they’re in this industry too. Maybe you’re doing well but you’d be willing to help someone else just by listening and offering a few words of experience.

Earlier in the year, BTS conducted an industry survey covering mental health and suicide, which resulted in the BTS Mental Health Initiative rolling out a number of suicide prevention tools as part of joining the #BeThe1To campaign run by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and its partners.

It is important to remember that it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to ask for help. It is okay to ask if someone needs help. Your theater colleagues and friends’ support doesn’t end when the stage door closes. I know we are all still here for each other and we all still need to hear each other. 

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