Film, TV and cinema industries to take action after "devastating" mental health report

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A new study has found that 87% of people working in the UK’s film, television and cinema industries have experienced a mental health problem.

The research was commissioned by The Film and TV Charity and surveyed more than 9000 industry professionals.

Among the findings were that:

  • workers were twice as likely to experience anxiety, compared to the national average;
  • workers are 3 times as likely to have self-harmed, against the national average and;
  • over half of those surveyed have considered taking their own life (compared to one-fifth nationally). One in 10 have attempted to do so.

The Looking Glass report has led to the industry supporting an initial £3m commitment to fund an urgent action plan, known as The Whole Picture Programme.

This will launch in April and will include an enhanced 24/7 Film and TV Support Line and industry-wide behaviour change campaign.

“I’m pleased to be working with the members of the new Film and TV Taskforce on Mental Health to spearhead a movement for change. Devastating though the findings from our research are, we firmly believe there is cause for optimism,” said Alex Pumfrey, Chief Executive of The Film and TV Charity.

“As a cohort, we are committed to working closely together to address the widespread issues, building an industry that has ‘great work’; where people are much better supported, in which bullying and the stigma of mental health is relegated to history; and where working practices take account of the very human nature of our work. As the charity supporting the film, TV and cinema workforce we often hear the stories that others don’t. We can no longer shy away from the need for real change.”

The initiative is supported by the major UK broadcasters.

“Our people, both behind and in front of the camera, are the lifeblood of this industry and as our Duty of Care Charter makes clear, their mental health and wellbeing is our top priority. At the heart of ITV’s social purpose strategy is our Mental Wellness five-year campaign and as part of it, we back taking an active role in the Taskforce and this programme. We support this initiative which brings the industry together to reiterate and say to our teams, we are there to support you,” said Julian Bellamy, Managing Director, ITV Studios.

Zai Bennett, Managing Director, Content at Sky, added:

“The Film and TV Charity has delivered a compelling case for investment in the mental health of our industry’s workforce. We are proud of Sky’s reputation as a great place to work, and the Whole Picture Programme will allow us to enhance the support available to our own employees and extend valuable services into the freelance community and across the industry. We want to provide an exciting, vibrant and safe place to work, knowing that our industry will put people first.  We are delighted to play our part in the funding and launch of the Whole Picture Programme.”

Channel 4’s newly appointed Chief Operating Officer, Jonathan Allen said:

“Channel 4 actively supports the collaboration with other industry leaders to provide better mental health care and support for our people. An industry’s culture cannot be changed by one organisation acting in isolation, so by working together, we are sending a clear message to employees, freelancers and the next generation that their mental health and wellbeing are our priority.”

Heather Carey, Research Director at the Work Foundation said the results of the survey painted a “concerning picture”:

“Our research has surfaced the underlying and interlinked causes – from working conditions and culture, to the capability of the industry to provide support to those that need it most. Many of these risk factors are heightened amongst the diverse talent the industry is working hard to attract; and it is particularly concerning, given skill shortages evident in UK film and TV, that 63% of workers have considered leaving the industry because of worries about the impact it has on their mental health.”