Royal Opera House recognises mental health issues

Royal Opera House recognises mental health issues


norman lebrecht

July 19, 2018

Covent Garden has signed up to a campaign to end the stigma of mental illness in the workplace.

We want the Royal Opera House to be a great place to work with a safe, inclusive and productive culture. Everyone who works with us should feel supported and able to express themselves. Signing the Employer Pledge is a step towards creating an environment free of stigma for those living with mental health issues or supporting those who do.

We are committed to ending stigma around mental health. We will be holding awareness events and training mental health champions to break down the barriers surrounding mental health.

We will actively seek new and innovative ways to make sure every employees’ and artists’ mental wellbeing is looked after.

Fine words.



  • Rob says:

    How about a nice cup of green leaf tea and a packet of jelly babies.

    • Sharon says:

      It’s a step in the right direction Rob. We need to take away the stigma of mental illness. It is a disease with a physiological base and many brilliant artists have suffered from various forms of mental illness

    • Una says:

      You haven’t a clue! Recognition of mental illness, and particularly in men of all people, has to be addressed as it is crippling not only a large percentage of the population but also musicians of every sort. Time to get real and be compassionate and helpful and understanding on the same basis as one would have for a broken leg. It is not about feeling fed up, it is an illness and not a sign of weakness in anybody!

  • Anonymous says:

    It won’t change anything. The passive aggressive bullying in London orchestras has always been there – dressing it up with wellness etc…will not encourage the players to seek help. Sad, yet true.

  • John Borstlap says:

    This a programme greatly needed by Lucia (di Lammermoor), Isolde, Elektra, Salome an definitely Turandot.

  • Sue says:

    Cause and effect.

  • Marshall De Bruhl says:

    Does that mean no more mad scenes?

  • V.Lind says:

    Not sure how effective the ROH programme will be, but the contempt around the issue here is rather appalling. (Exceptions duly noted, Sharon and Anonymous). A little empathy would go a long way.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Of course the issue is important. But is opera the best platform for such campaign?

      • Bruce says:

        I may be wrong, but I got the impression they are talking about how employees are treated, not how operas are staged.

      • Una says:

        Yes, when one in three or four in the whole country are depressed – and musicians are in that statistic in Britain alone. So next time you’re in any group of ten, be aware one are two are suffering from crippling depression – and it could be you!

        • Mark Mortimer says:

          Una- spot on comments. The UK has a big problem with depression & its getting worse. Of course- we’ve much to be depressed about- a country which has lost its historically proud identity in the last 20 years (particularly post Brexit) & weak governance, resulting in a poor economy (let nobody tell you that the UK is a wealthy country- it isn’t apart from the top 5% where the wealth is concentrated) & general feeling of malaise- can’t be bothered. But for those who really need help- the situation is most shameful. An NHS which has an appalling record on mental health & a private health care system which is good but only if you can afford it- which most can’t.

  • Bruce says:

    ^ In response to V. Lind, I was going to say “appalling but not surprising.” But actually it IS sort of surprising, on a blog like this one dedicated to the arts. Surely people realize that artists are never “normal” people.* “Normal” people don’t become artists.

    Even if one’s “abnormality” does not manifest as mental illness, it still takes a, shall we say, “unusual” kind of person to willingly spend hours a day alone in a practice room or studio for years, working with single-minded determination on something that may or may not ever provide material benefit to them. It is also not “normal” to want to get up in front of crowds and undress yourself emotionally. To want to do both is, well… not normal.

    From there — balancing between extreme introversion and extreme extroversion — the distance from “quirkiness” to diagnosable mental ailments like depression or bipolarity is not very far.

    You would think that regulars on this blog, of all places (even Sue, who has expressed cheerful contempt for mental health issues and yet adores the famously shall-we-say “quirky” Carlos Kleiber), would have some grasp of that.

    *(I should say “almost never,” just in case)

    • John Borstlap says:

      IMHO, artists are cranks anyway, let them have their say and their pay and keep them away. What I’ve seen here of those types from music life, well, you can understand why classical music is in trouble. My aunt Clara warned me against it and she could know, she lived next to an opera soprano who practiced Queen of the Night at night and who was married to a tenor who banged on the kitchen counter while screaming something from Siegfried, forging a knife as he explained to the police when he was taken to his therapist.


    • Mark Mortimer says:

      Excellent comments Bruce

    • Una says:

      And then no one employs you because you’re x, y or z but you’re great at your art and what you do, yet you end up working in a shop with unlike-minded people! Enough to depress the strongest.