Let’s Get Mental

In 2018 a small group of students from Arts Educations Schools London (more commonly known as Arts Ed) decided that they wanted to do a football tournament for mental health.

They had several aims in mind:

  • To raise awareness of mental health issues among drama school students
  • To reduce stigma around mental illness among drama school students
  • To rase money for a mental health charity, one that was particularly likely to influence their lives and the lives of their colleagues

That year they decided to fundraise for BEat, a charity supporting those affected by eating disorders. It was such a huge success that in 2019 they ran it again, this time supporting Playing Sane (we were very, very pleased about that!) and, once again, raised £1000.

© Tom Grace

Teams come from all over the place to take part, with many of their fellow students coming out to support. Whilst the event is definitely competitive (well, what did you expect?) it’s also a rare chance for students from different schools and disciplines to meet up informally and to just have a good day together. A lot of students recognise that performance training can be very insular so it can be difficult to find out what’s going on elsewhere and to build relationships beyond one school, year or even class.

© Tom Grace

A lot of the participants talked about how nice it is to have a chance to spend time with colleagues when you’re not competing for work that you desperately need. The fierce competition of the industry can make it easy to see everyone you’re up against as a threat to your security and wellbeing. This event stripped that away and reminded everyone that they’re in the same boat and, ultimately, on the same side.

© Tom Grace

There’s no doubt that this event is only just getting going. The team are determined to run it annually for the foreseeable future and to encourage others to create other chances for this kind of socialising to happen. It’s crucial for the industry as a whole that we tackle the isolation that many students and new graduates feel and that we find ways to support them.

© Tom Grace

Piece written by Alice Brockway
All photographs courtesy of Tom Grace at
Grace Portraits London

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