Written by Shona Smith on Feb 13, 2020. Posted in General Interest

Report reveals extent of mental health crisis in Film, TV and cinema industries workforce with nine in ten people having experienced a mental health problem

Nearly nine people in 10 working in the UK’s film, TV and cinema industries have experienced a mental health problem according to a major study commissioned by the Film and TV Charity. The report also reveals that due to worries about the impact on mental health 63% of workers have considered leaving the industry which already faces skills shortages.

The Looking Glass study commissioned by The Film and TV Charity and conducted by The Work Foundation includes a survey of more than 9000 industry professionals. Key findings reveal that workers are; twice as likely to experience anxiety compared to the national average; three times as likely to have self-harmed compared to the national average; and over half of workers have considered taking their own life compared with one-fifth national average.

Alex Pumfrey, Chief Executive of The Film and TV Charity said the findings from the research are “devastating” but maintains there is “cause for optimism” as the industry commits to working closely together to address the widespread issues.

The findings have prompted an urgent action plan and taskforce backed by leading studios, broadcasters, production companies and cinema groups. At a summit convened by the Film and TV Charity in January 2020, industry leaders agreed an initial GBP3 million commitment to fund an urgent action plan. The Whole Picture Programme will launch in April and includes an enhanced 24/7 Film and TV Support Line and industry-wide behaviour change campaign.

Pumfrey says the Film and TV Taskforce on Mental Health will spearhead the change, “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”, adding “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”.

Heather Carey, Research Director at the Work Foundation, says “The film and TV industry is one of the most creative and rapidly growing parts of the UK economy; but the results from the Looking Glass survey paint a concerning picture of working life in this industry. Across a range of measure, those working in the sector experience significantly worse mental health outcomes. 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”.

The Film and TV Charity recently piloted a free, confidential, independent Film and TV Support Line to provide 24/7 support for everyone working in the industry on issues such as debt, depression and harassment. People can access the service via phone 0800 054 00 00, online chat at www.filmtvcharity.org.uk or by emailing support@filmtvcharity.org.uk

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