“Actors are highly vulnerable to depression and symptoms of anxiety,” Ainy Jaffri Rahman.

Spotlight   October 10, 2017
World Mental Health Day: Celebrities open up about mental illness.

One’s professional role and work environment is inextricably linked to one’s mental health. Work environments can either be stress inducing or stress relieving.

World Mental health day is observed on October 10th every year with the objective of raising awareness that mental health is equally important as physical health.

This year’s theme is ‘Mental health in the workplace’ and we got lucky to be in touch with the two successful ladies of the entertainment industry.

Here’s what they feel about mental illness and how it can be tackled.

Ainny Jaffri Rahman, actress and model:

“Mental illness is a common thing. According to new studies, we are the most stressed generation that ever was. In the highly competitive world we live in, and with the constant pressure to succeed, it’s not surprising to come across people with mental health issues.”

On asking about how far work impacts her own mental health? Ainy said,

​“Actors in particular are highly vulnerable to depression and symptoms of anxiety.”  

Our mental wellbeing is constantly threatened in a range of ways: a lack of autonomy in our profession, lack of control over our highly irregular ​employment and general working environment (we usually have no say in getting a role, often get very low pay for a lot of hard work, shoot in ​dangerous and unhygienic locations, suffer long unstable hours, have schedules that can change at a drop of a hat)​, complex interpersonal relationships, a high level of self-criticism, a high level of criticism by family and friends for our choice of profession, high level of public scrutiny when one is famous​ etc. The list goes on and on.

Has the mental health of your colleagues/peers ever been an issue?

As a matter of fact it has. In my career, very often people will not honor their commitments (turn up on time and keep the crew and cast waiting for a host of reasons) with mental health issues being near the top of the list. Breakdowns due to depression, self-loathing, stress, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, OCD are all very common concerns in my field. And it can affect one’s peers and colleagues in a very direct way.

Lastly, how can organisations encourage their employees’ mental wellbeing?

It’s much better to be proactive rather than reactive here!​

​Doing a simple online search on this topic will ​get you many ideas for this but some of the more fun and creative methods I found and liked were: encouraging exercise, allowing for breaks where employees can socialize, offering stress reduction workshops, hiring a mental health professional to teach mindfulness or offering free access to a yoga class, provide free and confidential mental health screenings (there are nifty ones online and don’t cost anything!), allowing an employee to attend weekly therapy appointments during business hours. The list goes on and on. Ignoring mental health issues only furthers the stigma and doesn’t help anyone.

Nina Lotia, Hairstylist, CEO of Nina Lotia salon:

“We all need help sometimes. We all have our issues. I think there’s no harm in seeking help. Even successful people seek help because we need to vent out.” – Nina Lotia

I deal with so many people and I can tell that this person is not well. Because the whole attitude of the person changes.

On talking about how work impacts mental health, Nina said, It is my sanity because I work in a very happy environment. One gets to learn a lot, from other people. When I come home, it’s a happy feeling, a satisfying feeling. Salon is a passion for me.

The women who work in the salon are the sole bread earners of their family and they have a lot of personal issues. We give them such a happy environment, for those hours, they forget about their issues. Their work is their way out, to inner peace with themselves. They’re also very passionate towards their work. It gives them a feeling of achievement and it gives them a lot of confidence. Especially in our salon; it’s a very calm and relaxed atmosphere.

Nina gave the most positive advice on how organizations can encourage their employees’ mental well-being,

“We should listen to them. Whenever someone has issues they come to me and I try to counsel them and help them to solve their issues. It’s better to talk then to keep it in the hearts and be miserable.”

We need to keep a happy environment.  I try my best to be available to them 24/7.

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For World Mental Health Day, Spotlight collaborated with CareForHealth, to know more closely about mental health. CareForHealth is a Karachi based Charitable Trust that tackles recovery from mental illness and reintegration into employment.