Co-Founders of Industry Minds Scarlett Maltman and Cathy Read talk about the mental health charity’s podcast, counselling and awards raising awareness of those offering mental health support within the arts

Starting off as a podcast in 2018, Industry Minds currently offers a space for creatives to discuss issues relating to mental health. An important outlet and resource contributing to the mental health conversation, the charity also offer low cost and free counselling sessions led by counsellor Mary Burch BEM, as well as running The Industry Mind Awards – an initiative acknowledging the work of those raising awareness of mental health in the arts. Having supported the industry during a difficult year, co-founders Scarlett Maltman and Cathy Read tell us more about the charity’s work.

Hi Industry Minds, you initially started off as a podcast in 2018 with the aim of creating a space for mental health support. What inspired the creation of the podcast?

Cathy: Scarlett came to me in the summer of 2018 saying that she wanted to start a podcast to discuss mental health in the arts. I’ll let her tell you why she was inspired but I jumped at the idea! I had suffered with my mental health and felt it wasn’t spoken about nearly enough in the arts and wider society.

Scarlett: I was struggling with my mental health and realised there wasn’t any conversations or support for mental health specifically for those in the creative arts. I felt really lost and wasn’t sure where to turn to, so I turned to a podcast that explored themes of mental health. It really did help me feel like I wasn’t alone in feeling the way I was, but I quickly wondered why there wasn’t a podcast specific to those in the arts and that’s when I had the idea! 

Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud and other podcast platforms, Industry Minds offers a platform for creatives to discuss issues related to mental health. Have there been particular issues that have arisen from discussions raised on the podcasts?

Cathy: I’d say that what I’ve deduced from our interviews is that we’re all so different but all experience mental health to a degree. You can be in what others assume is the best job of your life and really struggling or you can be hustling every day and in a really good space mentally. We all have different experiences and they affect our mental health differently. This is why everyone’s struggles should be listened to and taken seriously, and why we wanted to get a wide variety of creatives on. I love series 3, which focuses solely on creatives. It’s so important people know that producers/agents/casting directors have struggles too. 

What have you learned from running the podcast?

Cathy: Your mental health and experiences are valid. And always send the backup audio file to yourself in case your laptop crashes (as mine did halfway through series 1!)

Scarlett: That mental health was a conversation that needed to happen and that support was even more needed. I also think I learned that if you have an idea to do something, do it. You never know who that idea could help.

Industry Minds’ also facilitate low cost and free counseling sessions run by counsellor Mary Burch BEM. What does this support entail?

Scarlett – The support is very specific to what the client needs so it can vary, but we offer short and long term therapy meaning anyone can seek support specific to their needs. We would offer face2face therapy in London fortnightly pre-covid times, but currently, we run online or via the phone depending which is best for the client. 

We also run free mental health seminars which focus on various different topics.  

Cathy: Mary runs skype and phone counselling for those in the arts. She also leads mental health seminars for us, which are currently on zoom. Before the pandemic, she was in London every fortnight to run low-cost face to face sessions. 

In what has been a very challenging year for the arts, mental health has increasingly become a topical issue. What has your work involved during this time?

Cathy: Releasing Series 5 (16 episodes!) was a big achievement for us, as every episode but one was recorded over skype or zoom. It meant we could connect with some creatives who were usually out of the country or incredibly busy and we were thrilled to get such an amazing variety of people on. We also ran our graduate support programme from May to July, which facilitated workshops, mental health support, agent and casting director 1-1s, Q&As and mentoring for over 200 graduates, all free of charge. We had an incredible selection of industry professionals give their time for free to help the class of 2020. Mary has also been incredibly busy during the pandemic. Aside from her increase in private clients, she has facilitated many free zoom seminars for us and has been invited to talk by many organisations and schools. Scarlett and I also virtually visited a few drama schools before the summer holidays.

You also run The Industry Minds Awards, raising awareness and celebrating leading mental health organisations and individuals in the arts. What do the awards involve?

Cathy: The awards are a celebration of those who are doing great things in raising awareness of mental health in the arts and also of those who are doing something about it. There are 7 categories: Creative, Establishment, Healthcare, Performer, Training, Recognition and Volunteer, and at least 4 nominees in each category. This year, the nominees were chosen by the Industry Minds Committee and the winners in each category are chosen in a silent ballot by a selection of judges. We hope that by recognising all the nominees, people will become aware of them which in turn, could help them if they need it. Please check out our 2020 nominees.

What are your hopes for Industry Minds moving forward?

Scarlett: We hope that we can continue to fundraise so we can continue to offer as much free therapy as possible to those who face financial hardship, this is currently our main goal as we continue to feel the effects of Covid-19. The main goal we strive for is to expand by bringing on more counsellors so we can offer as much support in various different ways. 2021 will see us working with theatres and producers for the very first time by offering free counselling/mental health seminars to all who work for those producers/venues, this has been a goal from day 1 so we are very excited to be making it happen. 

Cathy: That the name ‘Industry Minds’ will always be a reminder that mental health should be taken seriously in the arts. Hopefully, we can continue to inspire people to put mental health first. 

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

To find out more about Industry Minds, visit here…

To listen to the podcast, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop