Depression 'three times more likely' in creative industries

Image source, Newscast

People working in Northern Ireland's creative industries are three times more likely to experience mental health problems, a study suggests.

The Ulster University (UU) research found irregular working hours, the lack of job security and poor pay all impact on wellbeing.

Problems also arise because people feel society undervalues their work, the research suggests.

The study found anxiety and depression were the most common disorders.

Professor Siobhan O'Neill from the Psychology Research Institute at UU led the research team.

She said the study found that often people with existing mental health issues "are maybe drawn to the creative industries to help them 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.

A total of 574 people working in the creative sector answered detailed questions about their mental health.

The study found the most commonly diagnosed disorders were anxiety (36%) and depression (32%) while 60% of participants reported having had suicidal thoughts.

However the majority of participants said they felt hopeful and considered themselves to be happy.

Peter McBride of charity Inspire, who commissioned the research, said people who are creative are likely to be "more in touch with their feelings."

"That can mean they sometimes experience things differently or more deeply than other people, that's part of their craft.

"And in a way that is their gift to us, part of our research shows they pay a price for that," he said.