The maltreatment of workers in Hollywood is shocking: Runway models eat cotton balls soaked in juice to fill their stomachs without food, reality TV stars stop their medication so they can drink on set, and crew members being verbally abused by producers. Teresa Beardsley has been working in the entertainment industry for enough years to see the grim reality of Hollywood. Her past work in fitness modeling and reality TV have given her numerous examples of the traumatic experiences entertainment professionals go through daily.
Some of her memories include; actors being coerced to drink excessive alcohol, starting fights because of excessive stress, and physically harming themselves. The modeling industry is known for shattering the self-esteem of talent every day. Teresa was aware of modeling managers pressuring models and actors to modify their bodies to fit mold. She also had awkward conversations with bosses who asked what drugs she liked taking, and witnessed her co-workers regularly self-medicating with illegal substances.
Substance abuse is a raging issue in this demographic because the long work hours, competitive environment, and uncertainty of future employment are daily stressors that keep both crew and talent from developing positive coping mechanisms.
Teresa argues that every studio and set should promote mental health breaks in order to avoid the breakdowns or accidents workers often experience. Teresa believes the industry should care about their team more than the job they’re performing. In the end, Teresa knows Hollywood needs a fundamental change to its practices because it’s unsafe and unsustainable for those involved.
Countless celebrities report the same horror stories about anxiety, stress, depression, and the physical or sexual abuse they have suffered while working on set. Until now, movie stars and those working behind the scenes haven’t spoken out about this issue. The secrets of Hollywood have been tightly sealed, but with mental health becoming a less stigmatized topic, the floodgates are opening.
According to Beardsley, the nonstop grind, encouragement of toxic behaviors for entertainment, overwhelming pressure, and lack of mental health resources are unacceptable and near impossible to maintain. Workers in the entertainment industry are three times more likely to encounter mental health problems.
Teresa notes that the danger of this industry stems from the absence of mental health support and a lack of human resources departments. Claims reporting workplace abuse are only investigated after shows end filming and sometimes it’s become too late. Teresa says many directors don’t know what safety representatives they need to hire either. She owns a full service safety company in entertainment and has to educate higher ups on what staff is crucial for their employees’ health.
Despite the belief that actors rule the stage, Teresa shares that they have the least control on set. Actors don’t have a voice to stand up for themselves and sometimes, even when they try, they’re taught it’s better to stay silent.
Teresa says protecting the mental health of entertainment workers lies in providing proactive resources, such as intimacy coordinators and entertainment workers having immediate access to mental health counseling through a telehealth company.
An intimacy coordinator manages the scenes actors are asked to perform and makes sure their mental wellbeing and relationship boundaries are maintained while working. Telehealth companies provide mental health counseling free of charge to employees. This counseling allows workers who generally can’t receive therapy a way to be supported.
Teresa is trying to bring awareness to this issue and help the professionals who are suffering in silence. The non-profit she works closely with, Event Safety Alliance, hosts conferences for entertainment workers which always include mental health and wellbeing segments. The Alliance give advice because most workers can’t manage their conditions well, simply because they can’t afford to, or they don’t have any stability in their lives because of their job. Teresa and her colleagues want to share the free resources that can help with mental health issues until access to a therapist or other professional are accessible for people.
CEO of Safety Compliance Services Teresa Beardsley says, “Being pulled in different directions constantly and having so much stimulation can become overwhelming. It’s really important to work on your boundaries and never drop what you’re doing to help someone else: Telling them you’ll handle it only when you are mentally and physically capable is essential, because it helps you protect your space.
When work consumes your life and you don’t have many good opportunities to take breaks, starting small is better than nothing. You can create dopamine by tidying your space and complement that release by practicing gratitude – that also releases serotonin. Doing this gives your brain a sliver of comfort when you’re surrounded by so much toxicity. Taking breaks to get fresh air and breathe is also something I really encourage. Find a quiet spot where you can practice self-soothing techniques everyday.”
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