Mental Health and the Sex Worker

Mental health is an critical thing to consider when taking on any line of work, but for sex workers, it can be especially challenging. And the results can be devastating. Over the past several weeks, we’ve said goodbye to too many beloved performers in the adult industry, and it’s clear that the world needs to do better by sex workers.


While general mental health practices are always good to follow, sex workers need special attention. Fortunately, more resources are becoming available, and there are many sex workers who are sharing their own experiences to help others.


We’ve put together a list of the top advice for adult performers–these are great guidelines not only for those who are struggling, but for everyone in the industry to follow. Maintaining your mental health is one of the most important steps you can take, and these tips can help lead you in the right direction.


Top 5 Mental Health Habits


Create a Stress-Prevention Kit


A stress-prevention kit should be your first line of defense against difficult situations. The tools you put in your kit are as important as knowing when to use them, so they should be distinctly personal to you. While there are no hard and fast rules as to what belongs in a stress-prevention kit, there are guidelines you can follow. Make sure that your tools are things that will diffuse a painful situation and allow you to redirect your energy to a healthier place. Consider the following tips for creating your own kit:

  • A list of loved ones who you can call or text for support
  • Instructions for deep-breathing exercises.
  • A journal where you can record your thoughts and get any negativity out of your head and onto the page.
  • A reminder to keep moving: try exercising, dancing, or just going for a walk to dispel negative energy.
  • Sleep tools: think melatonin, a sleep mask, lavender essential oil–anything that allows you to relax and ensure a peaceful night’s sleep.
  • A list of your favorite movies. (Believe it or not, sad films can help you release stress–crying is a useful tool for clearing your mind of harmful thoughts and emoting in a healthy way.


Feed Your Body (and Your Mind)


Poor eating habits won’t cause depression, but they can make a bad situation worse. Hunger and lack of nutrition can contribute to stress, anxiety, and sadness, so be sure that you’re eating regularly and getting plenty of water. You can opt for three square meals a day or break them up into smaller portions that let you eat every few hours.


Create a Social Support Network


Social support is especially important for sex workers, because many times they work under anonymity, which can be extremely isolating. By connecting with others in the industry, you’re ensuring that you have a sounding board of your peers who understand your unique challenges and can offer helpful support. Need help finding allies? Our Telegram group is a good place to start, and you can also search hashtags like #SexWorkIsWork, #SexWorkersUnite, and #SexWorkerRights


Protect Yourself on Social Media


Social media can be a blessing and a curse. As an adult performer it’s likely where you obtain and interact with the bulk of your fanbase, but as the adage goes, you can’t please everyone, which leaves lots of cracks where abuse can leak in. Aside from the run-of-the-mill trolls that love to surf the web and stir up trouble, sex workers have the added stress of keeping their fans happy…which is tricky. Most people have no idea of the sheer amount of hate adult influencers face online, and that can wear away at the toughest skin.


So what can you do? If certain things are triggering to you, you can mute keywords on Twitter to help keep negativity out of your timeline. It’s also important to take social media breaks once in a while. Despite the fact that you make your living online, you don’t owe your fanbase ALL of your time. Try preprogramming content to post, recycling videos and clips, and giving yourself strict ‘off’ times. When you’re receiving validation, social media can feel like a warm place, but remember that it can go cold very quickly.


Bad Day? Process it in a Healthy Way


A bad day at work for a sex worker isn’t the same as a bad day for someone working in an office. For sex workers it can range from mild irritation to a traumautizing experience with lifelong effects. In order to prevent a build-up of negativity, it’s best to get your feelings out right away so you can process and begin to work through them. Journaling is a great option for coming to terms with your feelings and putting yourself in a better state of mind. If you’re looking for an even better outlet, a therapist with a background in sex work can be an incredible resource. Just knowing that you can speak freely to someone who is unshockable is extremely helpful. If you’re interested in finding a therapist with experience in sex work, this checklist is a good starting point.


You’re Not Alone


We understand that we can offer you endless tips for preserving your mental health, but your experiences are yours, and no one knows what your personal struggles are. That’s why our final tip is: We’re here for you. Our team makes itself extremely accessible because we care deeply about each and every influencer on the platform. If you are struggling, don’t do it in silence. If you feel alone, reach out and let us know. We’ll do everything in our power to help.


Other Resources that May Help:

Pineapple Support

Sex Workers Project

Sex Worker Outreach Program

Sex Work and Mental Health

NUM Mental Health Resources

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