The elephant in the room

I shouldn’t have time to write this. May bank holiday weekend is fast approaching; the weekend I consider the outdoor summer season really gets underway. The idea of spending a bank holiday weekend at home when you make your living from other people’s leisure time is pretty novel, and this weekend will make it three bank holidays at home in a row (Easter, VE Day, and soon May bank holiday).

I’ve been thinking for some time now about what to say about Coronavirus, but this week being Mental Health Awareness Week seemed like a good opportunity.

I don’t need to tell anyone that this industry has been decimated by this virus. We’re not alone in that, but I think we are one of the industries that will take longest to recover and will probably see some of the most long-lasting changes to how we operate. There are many people talking about drive-in events, about the best ways to go digital, about how we apply social distancing in environments where capacity is everything and whilst I’m fascinated by those discussions, I don’t want to have another one right now.

I want to talk about how we, as event professionals, get through this. Our work isn’t normal. Many of the things we get told to do to keep ourselves emotionally well are things that our industry traditionally struggles with… we don’t sleep enough, we drink too much booze and caffeine, we eat too much food on the go, we work in consistently high pressure environments. None of these things are a recipe for great mental health at the best of times, and these are definitely not the best of times.

Many of us thrive on being busy and most of us are now a long, long way from busy. Add to that the financial pressure that comes with loss of income, and a lot of people are struggling.

This week, and always, many people repeat the mantra that “it’s okay not to be okay”. It’s well meaning and I don’t want to discourage it, but the unintended seed that can be planted is that we have to accept not being okay, and that’s not the case. At any time, we all deserve to feel supported, and like we have direction, and that is still the case now.

I don’t have a magic answer or a one size fits all solution but I want you to know there is support out there. I’m proud to be a Crisis Volunteer for Shout. You can text SHOUT to 85258 at any time, day or night, for a free, confidential conversation with a trained volunteer (like me!). It’s easy to feel alone right now, particularly when you’re thinking about the field you should be in with your work buddies, but you don’t have to.

Keep safe, everyone.

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