Fall 2019

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Page 49 of 118

F or everyone caught up in the hustle of modern life, staying centered can be a challenge. The stress can be particularly great for actors, who often lack job security and must regularly face rejection. Numerous high-profile performers have opened up about their battles with depression, but this affliction is hardly limited to the famous. If you are struggling with depression or other mental health issues, you should always seek professional help. However, there are numerous tools for coping with the stresses of everyday life in an extraordinary profession. At a daylong series of panels at SAG-AFTRA Plaza in Los Angeles on May 8, a group of experts discussed mental wellness practice and what resources are available, particularly for performers. The event, titled Bringing Awareness and Coping Strategies to Mental Health, was organized by the L.A. Health Care Safety Net Committee to give members an opportunity to learn from mental health clinicians and fellow members about why actors tend to be predisposed to higher emotional sensitivity. It provided strategies to help manage various mental health conditions and cultivate the greatest fulfillment in their lives and careers. Panelists included Helen Lavretsky, a professor in residence in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA; master yogi and activist Akuyoe Graham; and breath- work teacher and intuitive healer Ana Lilia; Village Counseling and Wellness Executive Director Suzette Bray; therapist and actor Chad Schwartzman; actor Tucker Smallwood; host of the popular Audrey Helps Actors podcast, Audrey Moore; director of operations at the West L.A. branch of National Alliance on Mental Illness, Erin Raftery Ryan; Village Counseling & Wellness therapist Leigh Hall; and SAG-AFTRA member Mark Daughtery. Panelists discussed how several aspects of performers' lives, such as audition anxiety, competition and financial instability can agitate their already- heightened emotions and exacerbate feelings of depression and stress. Jealousy, frustration, and even the occasional pettiness are natural human reactions to have, panelists explained. Knowing how to analyze and deflate them is crucial to discovering the underlying issues so actors can work through them to be the best person they can be. Also important is developing purpose, friends and hobbies that bring joy outside of career. Story continues on next page. Performing at Your Best 48 SAG-AFTRA | Fall 2019 | GETTY IMAGES

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