Published on: 20 February 2020 in Directors UK

Major new report paints an alarming picture of mental health in the screen industries

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If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article and need immediate help, please call: 

• The Film & TV Charity Helpline  - 0800 054 0000

• Samaritans phone line  - 116 123 or email [email protected]

For advice and guidance Mind have excellent resources on better mental health

Last week, a major new report revealed some alarming statistics about the state of mental health in the film and TV industry.

The Looking Glass, produced by The Film and TV Charity in conjunction with The Work Foundation, draws upon the results of last year’s survey eponymous survey - which gathered 9399 respondents across the industry. Its findings paint a stark picture of the state of mental health in the screen sectors.

55% percent of respondents are reported to have considered suicide, while 10% of respondents have made suicide attempts. Meanwhile, a quarter of respondents have deliberately harmed themselves – more than three times the national average.

Depression was a common issue for workers surveyed, with two-thirds having experienced depression in their careers. Another two-thirds of freelance workers have considered leaving the industry due to mental health issues. Read The Looking Glass in full here.

Everyone needs to play their part in creating a healthier working environment in the screen industries. In collaboration with our members, partners, our board and our committed team, work is underway to develop a set of resources to help directors with their mental health. 

Please read below to find out about some of the areas we are already working in, and some resources you might find useful. 

Tackling bullying and harassment

We believe that poor behaviour, harassment and bullying is unacceptable and according to the Through the Looking Glass report, bullying is one of the leading causes of poor mental health. If you’re a victim, a witness or even if you’re worried that you might be the perpetrator of bullying, our Bullying and Harassment guide will help you explore your options

Also, directors are leaders in the production process and upholding the industry’s anti-bullying Principles and Guidance for safer working environments will also help Directors protect their crews.

Financial insecurity

Working as a freelancer can mean income is irregular and inconsistent and that’s worrying. We were formed to help directors secure ongoing payments for the reuse of their works and to champion the right to fair remuneration, and this continues to be at the very heart of what we do. 

Lack of control over working hours and extreme working hours

Through the Looking Glass also cites long working hours as an issue. Negotiating your working hours, conditions, pay and rights can feel incredibly stressful. Our legal services are open to full members and can be useful when trying to negotiate a reasonable contract of work, relating to working hours, areas of responsibility and control over editorial contributions — just email [email protected]

Working with distressing content or contributors with mental health issues

Working on factual and unscripted content has unique challenges; difficult material, hazardous environments, vulnerable contributors and lone working to name a few. Our factual directors and documentarians are coming together to identify how we tackle some of these problems and in the meantime have shared their top tips for staying well. You may also find the resources highlighted in our article ‘6 tips to stay sane in an insane business’ useful.

We will continue to prioritise mental health for directors in the year ahead, and will update our members as our work progresses.

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