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Film and TV Charity - Film and TV Charity
Last updated October 2020

Film and TV Charity launch new mental health programme

The Whole Picture Programme, co-ordinated by the Film and TV Charity and championed by leading industry organisations, will roll out a suite of new services and resources that will empower and support the workforce, and seek to assist and amplify the ongoing work of other industry bodies.

The Film and TV Charity has now secured £3m funding from Amazon Prime Video, Banijay UK, BBC, BBC Studios, Channel 4, IMG, ITV, Sky, Sky Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Walt Disney Company, ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia to deliver the 2-year programme, supported by the BFI and backed by the UK’s leading mental health charity Mind. The charity estimates that mental health problems including staff turnover cost the sector at least £300m in losses each year. 

The programme’s structure will comprise the Film and TV Taskforce on Mental Health, a Steering Group and several Working Groups, all of which will bring insight and expertise from across the industry that will help shape and deliver the programme. Over the next 2 years, the industry can expect to see and benefit from:

  • A toolkit for mentally-healthy productions
  • Enhanced professional and peer support for freelancers
  • People skills and training guides
  • Industry actions to improve behaviours
  • Anti-bullying services and resources

Alex Pumfrey, CEO of the Film and TV Charity said: “Thanks to the extraordinary commitment of our funders, this programme of work for better mental health is now moving into gear.

It has been a devastating year for many people in our industry, and it’s clear we cannot afford to return to ‘business as usual’. Our 2019 research showed a mental health crisis in the industry, which has only been exacerbated by the terrible effects of the pandemic. The case for improving the mental health of the industry has never been stronger or more urgent. This programme of work is designed to turn the tide on poor mental health by enhancing the available support, changing behaviour and improving ways of working; but this will need to be an industry-wide effort to create sustainable change.”  

The programme was developed in response to the charity’s ground-breaking research, conducted last year and released in February.

The project has been on hold for six months whilst the charity has dedicated all of its resources to responding to Covid-19, raising £6.4m and supporting thousands of workers with a range of grants and financial and mental wellbeing services.

Over the summer, calls for increased support and rights for workers, prompted by the impact of the pandemic on a largely freelance workforce, have reinforced the need to improve support for people working in the industry.

More than 9,000 people took part in the research last year, sharing their experiences and stories confidentially, which identified a mental health crisis within the industry. The findings uncovered a range of issues including self-harm and bullying. Since then, the pandemic has meant increased isolation and anxiety for many, and Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in the industry have shone a light on the impact that systemic racism and discrimination has on mental health.

As members of the Taskforce, industry leaders are working collaboratively to adopt and champion the work both within their own organisations and widely across the sector.

The Steering Group and Working Groups will include mental health, workplace wellbeing and issue-related experts; industry bodies and campaigning groups; staff and freelance workers – many with lived experience of mental health problems – from a broad range of genres, levels of seniority and diverse backgrounds.

The Film and TV Charity will continually monitor membership of the groups over the 2 years of the programme to ensure that representation is drawn from a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds.

Alex Pumfrey added: “As we get started with this programme we are looking forward to working with our colleagues across the sector, particularly the many industry bodies with whom we share a concern for the mental health of the workforce – and a desire for better ways of working. Our hope is that this programme can support other aligned work, and that together we can create an unstoppable movement for change.”     

Source: Film and TV Charity