Nine in ten suffer mental health problems in film and TV, says study

A major study of the mental health of people working in the UK’s film and TV industries has revealed that over half of workers have considered taking their own life, and that people are twice as likely to experience anxiety compared with the national average.

Nearly nine people in 10 working in the UK’s film, TV and cinema industries have experienced a mental health problem, according to the study commissioned by the Film and TV Charity.

That compares with two in three people in the UK population, according to the study conducted by the Work Foundation which included a survey of more than 9,000 industry professionals.

Workers are also three times as likely to have self-harmed compared with the national average.

Over half of workers have considered taking their own life, compared with one-fifth nationally, and one in 10 have attempted to do so.

Among the reasons for the high rates of mental health problems were bullying, lack of control over their long working hours, social isolation, and alcohol and drug dependency.

1 in 8 respondents worked more than 60 hours a week, whereas the national average is 1 in 50.  Meanwhile, 82% of workers said they had experienced or witnessed bullying.

The findings of The Looking Glass Report has led to leading studios, broadcasters, production companies and cinema groups agreeing an initial £3 million commitment to fund an action plan, The Whole Picture Programme, which will launch in April and will work closely with experts in mental health.

The action plan will include an enhanced 24/7 Film and TV Support Line and industry-wide behaviour change campaign.

Commitments have already been made by Banijay, Channel 4, Disney, Endemol Shine, ITV and Sky.

Alex Pumfrey, (left) chief executive of The Film and TV Charity, said: “I’m pleased to be working with the members of the new Film and TV Taskforce on Mental Health to spearhead a movement for change. Devastating though the findings from our research are, we firmly believe there is cause for optimism.

As a cohort, we are committed to working closely together to address the widespread issues, building an industry that has ‘great work’; where people are much better supported, in which bullying and the stigma of mental health are relegated to history; and where working practices take account of the very human nature of our work. 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.”

Zai Bennett, managing director of content at Sky, said: “The Film and TV Charity has delivered a compelling case for investment in the mental health of our industry’s workforce…We are delighted to play our part in the funding and launch of the Whole Picture Programme.”

Jonathan Allan, chief operating officer at Channel 4, said: “Channel 4 actively supports the collaboration with other industry leaders to provide better mental health care and support for our people.”

Paul Farmer CBE, chief executive of Mind said: “The Film and TV Charity’s research has revealed the scale of the mental health crisis in the film, TV and cinema industry – and a collaborative and industry-led approach to tackling this is crucial.”

Julian Bellamy, managing director, ITV Studios said: “Our people, both behind and in front of the camera, are the lifeblood of this industry and as our Duty of Care Charter makes clear, their mental health and wellbeing is our top priority. At the heart of ITV’s social purpose strategy is our Mental Wellness five year campaign and as part of it, we back taking an active role in the taskforce and this programme. We support this initiative which brings the industry together to reiterate and say to our teams, we are there to support you.”

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