Campaign SpotlightPress Release

Creative Under Fire initiative vows to help creatives with their mental health

AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS — A new major study involving 450,000 people worldwide, along with a brain scan study of the prestigious creative award winners, reveals that while creatives eagerly use their talent to address global challenges, their talent can also hinder them. Creativity often correlates with heightened sensitivity, increasing the risk of feeling overwhelmed when tackling tough issues, leading to mental and physical problems, more so than other groups.

Alarmingly, one in five creatives expects their mental health to worsen soon. Creative Under Fire was launched to support creatives facing these challenges by sharing survival tools and techniques to maintain mental well-being while addressing pressing global issues.

Endorser of the initiative, Christiana Figueres, Former UN Climate Chief, renowned for her role in realizing the Paris Agreement, urged creatives to prioritize their sanity: “Exponentiate your talent and harness it for good. If millions of creatives worldwide unite in this endeavor, we can generate an enormous positive force, contributing to the flourishing of humanity.”

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The worldwide study conducted by research company Glocalities shows that the top three creatives are worried about climate change (54%) and human rights violations (48%), followed by child abuse and neglect (45%). The survey also reveals that 22% of the world population belongs to the group of creatives. Millions of individuals are employed in or pursuing studies in creative fields, and they are prominently present within the ranks of social entrepreneurs and activists. Their imaginative prowess is vital for addressing pressing global issues. Yet, their potential positive impact is threatened by the emotional characteristics of the creative. Dr. Dan Siegel, advocate of this initiative, explained, “The creative mind is unique and prone to becoming overwhelmed in stressful situations.”

The research also shows that up to 80% of creatives struggle, to varying degrees, to connect with people who have different values and mindsets, leading to stress and frustration. However, cooperation with diverse individuals is essential for making an impact. Martijn Lampert, Research Director, said, “Creatives who break out of their bubble more easily not only exhibit a generally positive mindset but also perceive their own future mental health optimistically.”

The project engaged numerous experts with diverse backgrounds, including psychiatrists, seasoned creatives, soldiers, doctors, but also students, and activists, and an exclusive contribution from His Holiness The Dalai Lama, who shared a valuable tip for maintaining a bit more control: “You can train yourself to absorb and release horror. By doing so, you are developing a crucial switch — the one that ensures you remain in control. The key lies in genuinely embracing the horror, but only for a defined period before letting it go.”

The initiator is Mark Woerde, a former ad-man and the founder of the Dutch NGO LetsHeal. He was the creative mind behind one of the world’s largest anti-child porn operations and has firsthand experience of the challenges creatives face in maintaining their sanity. Professor Kees Klomp added, “This is a vital yet overlooked theme, calling for guidance for creative students and working creatives as they navigate mental pressures while spearheading societal change.”

Today marks the kick-off of Creative Under Fire. The first to receive the research insights and tools for staying sane are the 250,000 members of the world’s largest creative community, Cannes Lions, and students of the Amsterdam University of Applied Science and their 36 worldwide partner schools.

The resources are now available to everyone for free here.

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