The severity of the scale of mental health issues in the screen industries has been raised by a new report published today.
The centrepiece of the research for the Film and TV Charity was an online survey of more than 9,000 respondents, which showed nearly nine in 10 people working in the industry have experienced a mental health problem - compared to two in three (65%) people within the UK population.
The research conducted by the Work Foundation suggested there are three key areas that contribute to poor mental health – the conditions of work, the industry’s culture, and its capability to provide support.
Mental health issues within the screen industries have long been a concern of ScreenSkills, and we have several initiatives and programmes in place to help tackle these issues within the industry.
Our flagship paid placement programme for new entrants, Trainee Finder, includes resilience training as standard, to help tackle mental health issues often faced by the workforce.
We recently launched a mental health awareness training programme in association with Ffilm Cymru: MindSet ran in December 2019 for film and TV producers, managers and heads of department. It gave participants the tools to create safe and inclusive working environments in which mental health can be discussed in a professional, open and relaxed manner. The programme was supported by the ScreenSkills Film Skills Fund with contributions from UK film productions and delivered by Ffilm Cymru Wales, in association with BFI Network Wales and BAFTA Crew UK.
We have also commissioned mental health training, support and awareness from Escape Studios, Pearson College London, to provide mental health first aid training to industry professionals in VFX and animation to better spot and support cases of poor mental health in the workplace. The aim is also to support students with a mental health issue (or a disability) at Escape Studios who are about to enter the industry.
Leadership and management training supported both by the HETV Skills Fund and by ScreenSkills using National Lottery funds awarded by the BFI also includes good working practice to reduce the pressure on freelancers. The ScreenSkills Mentoring Network is designed to offer further support to industry practitioners, and the Return to Work scheme, funded by the HETV Skills Fund and delivered by Film London, includes confidence building sessions.
ScreenSkills ITF (Indie Training Fund) runs mental health training for its members including regular bespoke sessions on mental health first aid, depression and mental wellbeing in the workplace, as well as short courses on resilience, work/life balance, mindfulness and meditation. ITF has also spoken at the freelancers wellbeing event at the BFI with Fremantle, to address the mental health of freelancers, and ran a panel on duty of care to highlight the obligations of the industry to the mental health of onscreen contributors.
The Film and TV charity will launch the Whole Picture Programme action plan in April. They have convened a film and TV taskforce on mental health. More information on the programme can be found here.