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An overwhelming number of entertainment professionals who have sought out financial assistance during the pandemic say they are struggling with their mental health, according to a new Actors Fund survey.
A survey of 7,163 performing arts and entertainment professionals who received help from The Fund found that 79 percent of people said that COVID-19 had negatively impacted their mental health and led to increased feelings of anxiety or depression, symptoms of stress, and a decreased ability to cope with economic uncertainty.
Underpinning the troubling numbers related to mental health have been the loss of work and income during the pandemic for a great number of entertainment professionals across the U.S. The survey, conducted by Morey Consulting, found that 76 percent of respondents said they had suffered a loss of income because of COVID-19, 62 percent reported they had lost part-time and gig employment, and 49 percent said they had lost full-time employment in the entertainment industry.
BIPOC respondents — approximately 27 percent of those surveyed — were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and were more likely to experience increased food insecurity, forced housing and utility changes, and increased debt as compared to white respondents.
In addition, the survey found that 40 percent of respondents have been struggling with food insecurity over the past year, 28 percent reported that they had fallen behind on rent or mortgage payments, 20 percent said they were forced to changed housing, and 10 percent sold an asset such as a house or car to make ends meet during the pandemic. The survey found that 13 percent of respondents based in New York City moved out of New York State, while 7 percent of those based in the Los Angeles area moved out of California.
The median income of the survey respondents was $34,186, with many having little or no savings.
Since the pandemic began last year, The Fund, a national organization dedicated to helping those in need in the performing arts and entertainment sectors, helped more than 40,000 people, a 71 percent increase from 2019. The Fund said it distributed more than $19 million in direct cash to some 15,000 individuals in 126 different occupations.
Joe Benincasa, CEO of The Actors Fund, said: “The last year has exposed how vulnerable people in our community are. We need to continue to provide critical support while the industry safely returns to work, and we intend to continue to explore ways to ensure more access to our services going forward.”
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