A lot has happened in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic surprised and shocked people all over the planet – we have never experienced a virus pandemic like this in our lifetimes!
When the virus first got to the UK, not many people took it very seriously thinking it was just like the flu.
However, as the case and death figures started to rise, it became obvious that COVID-19 is dangerous and needs to be properly controlled.
On the 23rd of March, the Prime Minister announced that the UK was entering its first national lockdown; meaning Britons should stay at home and only leave for limited reasons. Across all industries, venues closed down in the UK and closed down business.
This lockdown lasted for around 12 weeks (4x longer than initially thought) until the restrictions were slowly lifted due to a reduction in case and death numbers. As lockdown restrictions eased, many worried about a second wave of the virus as we got closer to the traditional flu season.
Unfortunately, these worries came true and the government announced a tiered system of lockdowns on the 12th of October that could be imposed on local areas, rather than nationally. This was upsetting for the business events industry, who were only allowed to reopen on the 1st of October if COVID-secure (if you need Health & Safety support to get COVID-secure, contact Wurkplace!).
However, now, as case numbers have continued to rise (with 20,018 new cases reported on the 3rd of November) the government has had to change their strategy, to protect the NHS and save lives.
From the 5th of November, England entered a second national lockdown (following Wales and Northern Ireland), once again asking the general public to stay at home where possible but keeping schools & universities open.
For those working in the events industry, this is devastating news as some event venues have remained closed since the first national lockdown, being told they cannot reopen safely. The Events Industry Alliance (EIA) wrote an open letter to the government stating that 90,000 jobs could be lost in the event sector if further support isn’t provided by the government.
The events sector employs around 600,000 people in the UK, this would be a loss of over 15% of all jobs in this industry. Although, employees are not the only ones who will suffer if the events industry stays closed – Many members of the general public rely on this industry for entertainment and as a social outlet.
How Does the Events Industry Affect Mental Health?
The events industry is a vast sector in the UK – it involves outdoor events, charity events, trade fairs & exhibitions, conferences, music concerts & festivals and other festivals (e.g. food festivals, etc).
Listening to live music can have a huge impact on people, it’s a different experience completely from listening to recorded music. Often, people enjoy going to concerts or festivals because they get to listen to their favourite artists and socialise with like-minded individuals.
One research paper looking at the difference between live and tape-recorded music found that when listening to live music participants experienced significantly less anxiety, tension and more vigour. They also found that live music caused more changes in physical discomfort and in mood (for the better), these participants also would recommend live musical therapy to others.
This research shows how differently live music affects us – Listening to live music is much better for our mood and mental health. This could be why many people experience ‘concert or festival blues’ the week after attending!
Additionally, research has found that food festivals also have a positive impact on mental health – When attending a food festival the effect of negative emotions is reduced over time. Food festivals combine two essential things for humans; eating and social interaction. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, these are two of the main basic and psychological needs for humans.
Even when looking at conferences or charity events, they allow for groups of similar people to gather and socialise which can seriously improve mental well-being and reduce feelings of loneliness.
A study investigating the motivations behind participants in a sporting charity event – They found four main motivations, with one of them being social interaction with other participants. Humans are a social mammal, the events industry brings people together and allows for socialising where there may not usually be any.
The Effects of the Events Industry Shutting Down on Mental Health
As we’ve gone through the year of 2020, it seems like almost every event has been cancelled or shut down due to COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions. This had a serious toll on Britons mental health and well-being – Most of us got our hopes up over the summer, only to realise that the virus would stop us attending events for even longer.
Events are often positive activities that encourage people to come out of their shell and have positive social interactions. Some research into this area found that positive activities & interactions with people can act as protective factors against mental health problems, by reducing negative thoughts and feelings of loneliness.
This is especially important for the younger generation, those in adolescence will particularly struggle with the events industry being closed. For younger people, research has shown that social interaction is strongly correlated with mental health status, much more than with adults.
Adolescents that don’t get much social interaction are much more likely to struggle with mental health issues like depression, anxiety and stress! The events industry allows for young people to come together and make friends with like-minded people, with this being closed there is a reduction in social interaction between the younger generation.
However, closing the events industry will affect most people in the UK – Young or old. According to the Business Visits & Events Partnership, the UK events industry is worth £39.1 billion, which highlights the value of events to people across the country as we have invested a lot of money into the sector.
With this sector being closed again, many people will lose a big source of social interaction, which is especially important for those who live alone during the pandemic! There is lots of evidence that suggests that socialising has many positive effects on both our physical and mental health.
One paper even suggests that the more social interaction we have, the better our cognitive functioning is! Having social relationships (instead of just household relationships) can benefit many aspects of people’s lives, especially when considering their mental state.
The events industry may seem unnecessary for some people, but it has a serious impact on our mental health, whether we realise it or not! Having a second national lockdown could further deteriorate the mental well-being of the UK, finding a way to allow the events industry to reopen safely would benefit us all.