Program Published: 10 Jun 2021

Taking Care: A Series on Mental Health for Opera Professionals

Join us for this special webinar series dedicated to the mental health of opera professionals.

Licensed mental health professionals join opera industry professionals to provide insights, tools, and resources for prioritizing mental health during the pandemic and beyond. Each 45-minute session dives into a specific topic related to the unique mental health challenges experienced by those working in opera.

This five-part series is free and open to all; no registration required. Links to the webinars will be available on this page before each session.

This series is presented by OPERA America and curated by the Women's Opera Network (WON). 

Mental Health Care for Creators and Artists
Thursday, June 24 | 5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. EDT
Practitioner: Beth Clayton, MA, CMHC
Moderator: Jessica Jahn, costume designer

A large proportion of opera artists are currently under- or unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have worked to create their own opportunities, taking on the burden of being both a company and a collaborator by themselves. Still others are without work, trying to balance pursuing a career with other obligations to their families and communities. How can artists retain their sense of identity when unable to practice their profession? What are the best ways to cope with the additional burdens during this period? Will having a creative outlet beyond existing professional skills revive a sense of purpose?

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Mental Health Care for BIPOC Opera Professionals
Thursday, July 8 | 5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. EDT
Practitioner: Ginger Klee, MS, LMFT, LPCC
Moderator: Marion Newman, mezzo-soprano and dramaturg; co-founder, Amplified Opera

The COVID-19 pandemic has had disproportionately negative effects on BIPOC members of all communities, the arts being no exception. In addition to dealing with the existing stressors of illness and financial hardship, BIPOC opera professionals face additional burdens within society and the opera industry. Ginger Klee will discuss issues of surviving predominantly white institutions, aligning to whiteness, and processing the challenges of living during a pandemic.

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Processing the Trauma of COVID-19
Thursday, July 22 | 5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. EDT
Practitioner: Erin Doerwald, LCSW, CMT-P
Moderator: Cheryl Hickman, general director, Opera on the Avalon

The world has experienced over one year of living in a pandemic, and society’s leaders continue to encourage steadfastness in the face of the ongoing crisis, urging the public to take safety precautions to prevent the spread of disease. As we focus on surviving our day-to-day lives in this reality, we also continue to experience the cumulative trauma created by the loss, anxiety, and burnout of living during this time.

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Mental Health Care in Professional Settings
Thursday, August 5 | 5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. EDT
Practitioner: Dr. Judy Brady, DSW
Moderator: Clare Burovac, general and artistic director, New Orleans Opera

Living and working in the same space has been a new experience for many workers during the pandemic. There are pressures — real and perceived — about time spent working, focus, and availability that greatly differ from what one experiences when working in a professional space. How do we balance setting boundaries between our personal and professional lives when they occupy the same physical space? When we work together in person again, how do we become our own best advocates for mental health? How can we deal with issues like imposter syndrome and navigating negative relationships in a professional environment?

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Balancing Caregiving and Personal Care
Thursday, August 19 | 5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. EDT
Practitioner: Baneca Henson, LPC, NCC, CCATP
Moderator: Alejandra Valarino Boyer, director of programs and partnerships, Seattle Opera

According to leading economists, this pandemic will set working women back 10 years in terms of equity and progress. A major contributing factor to this setback is the burden of eldercare and childcare being placed on women far more than on men. Whether remotely caring for older relatives outside the home or working from home while tending to children, the responsibility of family falls to women.

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