Charity Launches UK Film and TV Industry’s Largest Ever Mental Health and Wellbeing Study

Bonnie Evie Gifford
By Bonnie Evie Gifford,
updated on Jun 17, 2019

Charity Launches UK Film and TV Industry’s Largest Ever Mental Health and Wellbeing Study

Today the Film & Television Charity has launched the UK’s industry’s first study into wellbeing and support in the workplace

The Film & Television Charity has today launched their Through the Looking Glass study. Set to be the UK Film and TV industry’s largest ever mental health and wellbeing study, the charity hopes to gain a clearer understanding of the wellbeing of those working within the industry and how they can be better supported.

The study has begun gathering evidence through an online survey for all of those working within the sector. Industry professionals are asked to share their experiences by completing the survey, in the hopes of getting a clearer picture of the wider industry’s mental health and sense of wellbeing.

Set to be revealed this autumn, the results of The Looking Glass research will offer an in-depth analysis of the film and TV workforce within the UK. It is hoped that this research will act as a catalyst for new practicable, scalable interventions that will better support those working within the industry.

The announcement of the study follows the call for heightened regulations around reality television shows. Following the news of the death of a guest on the subsequently cancelled Jeremy Kyle Show, many have begun asking if has reality TV has run its course. With questions around the impacts these shows can have on viewers, as leading mental health charity The Mental Health Foundation criticised Love Island, the focus now turns to the less visible workforce: the thousands working behind the scenes.

Insight has been gathered from over 2,000 calls to the charity’s recently launched support line. Providing 24/7 advice and support for those within the industry on vital issues including debt, depression and harassment, this had prompted the organisation to further take action, to discover a fuller picture of the mental health issues faced, and begin coordinating an industry-wide response.

Respondents will be able to anonymously fill out the survey from 17 June to the end of July. Results, along with in-depth qualitative and quantitative research due to be conducted by The Work Foundation this summer, will be revealed in the autumn.

The study is set to look at a number of key areas, including:

  • How the prevalence of mental health problems within the industry compares with that of the general population and other UK industries
  • Specific characteristics of the industry, and how they may be adversely affecting workers selling
  • Percieved barriers to managing mental health and wellbeing
  • How best people can be supported

Despite the desirability of working within the industry, the largely freelance culture can often be rife with worries surrounding job security, difficulties accessing sick pay and pensions, all of which can take their toll on an overall sense of wellbeing.

CEO of the Film & Television Charity, Alex Pumfrey, shared his thoughts.

“We know how much people love and are proud of their work in the film and TV industry, but the highs and lows can take their toll. The suicide of a well-loved colleague from the film community in 2017 was the catalyst for our new Film & TV Support Line.

“Before he died, he wrote of how lonely he found his job and that he had not felt supported by his own industry. Since then, the stories of stress and strain that we hear every day through our support line continue to shine a light on the uncomfortable truth when it comes to the wellbeing of those working in this sector.

“This is why we are now working with the industry to face this issue. It’s time to establish a robust evidence base and piece together a true reflection of what’s really going on inside our sector, and the first step is our industry-wide survey. We are calling on everyone who works in film, TV and cinema to take part and share their experiences so we can get a true picture of the wellbeing of the industry and use this insight to create real change.”

Coinciding with the launch of the research project, an Industry Taskforce and Employer Forum have been assembled by the charity. Aiming to develop an understanding of the challenges faced throughout the industry, the Taskforce includes industry figureheads such as David Sproxton OBE, co-founder of Aardman Animations; Vue International’s Chief Executive Tim Richards; and BFI’s Chief Executive Amanda Nevill.

The Employer Forum will draw on the views of mental health champions, diversity leads, HR, and professionals from across a range of organisations including the BBC, Channel 4, and Cineworld Cinemas. The Forum aims to respond to findings to create practical, scalable interventions that can help support the mental health and wellbeing of those working across the film, cinema and TV industries.

CEO of the BFI, Amanda Nevill, shared her thoughts:

“I am very pleased to be part of this Industry Taskforce, and support the crucial work of the Film & Television Charity. The mental health of our workforce has for too long not been given the support it deserves and so this new research project is incredibly important and timely.

“The cornerstone of our industry and its continued success are its fantastic people, and it is vital we have a happy and healthy workforce. Therefore, I encourage all my colleagues across the industry to take part in order to provide an accurate picture, so practical interventions can be made.”

If you are part of the film, TV or cinema industry, you can take part in the online survey by visiting the Film & Television Charity’s website now.

Concerned about your mental health or wellbeing? Discover simple tips for improving and maintaining your mental wellbeing, find out why mental wellbeing is everyone’s business, or discover how working with a coach can help you reduce your stress levels.

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