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Work in creative industries negatively impacts mental health, study finds


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Those who work in creative industries are three times more likely to experience mental health issues, a recent study shows.

Research conducted by the University of Ulster (UU) in Northern Ireland has found that aspects of working in the creative industry such as irregular hours, lack of job security and poor pay have negative impacts upon mental well-being. 

Anxiety and depression were the most common illnesses, the study found.

Out of the 574 people surveyed about their mental health, 36% were diagnosed with anxiety and 32% had depression. A total of 60% of the participants reported that they have experienced suicidal thoughts.

Despite these high figures, the study shows that the majority of the participants considered themselves to be happy and hopeful.  

Professor Siobhan O’Neill from the Psychology Research Institute at UU led the research team. She said that people with existing mental health illnesses are attracted to work in creative industries to “work through their own issues.”

“But we also think there are a lot of aspects of working in the creative sector that would actually increase the risk of mental illness too. It is both the type of people who might want to do these jobs and also the nature of the employment itself.

“There is a fundamental issue here about how society views the arts and what we are prepared to give for that – one in five people reported living below the poverty line, that of course is going to be a cause of stress, and it is just unacceptable” She said. 

The charity Inspire commissioned the research.

Peter McBride, Group Chief Executive of Inspire, said that those who are more creative are more likely to be “more in touch with their feelings.” 

“That can mean they sometimes experience things differently or more deeply that other people, that’s part of their craft. And in a way that is their gift to us, part of research shows they pay a price for that,” he said.

Inspire is an organisation dedicated to promoting the wellbeing through mental disabilities, addiction and professional wellbeing services across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

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