• 87% of UK industry workers have suffered mental health problem
  • Half have considered taking their own life, study finds
  • Industry backs £3m initiative to boost mental health and wellbeing

mental health in tv industry (bunyiam  Shutterstock)

Mental health: 87% of UK TV industry workers have suffered a mental health problem

Source: bunyiam / Shutterstock

The Film and TV Charity has launched a Mental Health Taskforce to tackle the mental health “crisis” in the UK film and television industry.

According to the charity’s Looking Glass study, 87% of the UK TV and film workforce have experienced a mental health problem – significantly higher than the wider UK figure, which is 65%. Half have considered taking their own life, while one in ten have even taken steps to end their life.

Much of this is tied to the freelance nature of the industry, with increased risk factors for freelancers. Among those who identify as BAME, LGBTQ+ or disabled, the numbers and risk factors are significantly elevated.

The survey was conducted by the Work Foundation and sought the views of 9,000 industry professionals from across the UK. According to the charity, it highlights a mental health crisis in the industry, pointing to three areas of underlying causes for poor mental health outcomes, called the ‘three Cs’. These are:

  • Conditions of work
  • The industry’s culture
  • Its capability to provide support for those who need it

In order to tackle this, the charity has invited industry leaders to form the Film and TV Taskforce on Mental Health which aims to co-create and co-fund a programme of work to tackle the mental health crisis.

In a blog, Film and TV Charity CEO Alex Pumfrey said she had been “heartened by the industry’s overwhelmingly positive response”.

In April, it will launch a new, urgent two-year response to the research findings, called The Whole Picture Programme, which will make up part of a 10-year plan to support the long-term mental health of people in the industry.

Industry leaders have agreed to back the programme to the tune of a £3 million commitment which will be used to fund an enhanced 24/7 support line for people in the industry, as well as campaigns looking to change behaviour across the sector.

The likes of ITV, Sky, Channel 4 and mental health charity Mind are among those backing the initiative.

Zai Bennett, managing director, 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 proud of Sky’s reputation as a great place to work, and the Whole Picture Programme will allow us to enhance the support available to our own employees and extend valuable services into the freelance community and across the industry.

“We want to provide an exciting, vibrant and safe place to work, knowing that our industry will put people first. We are delighted to play our part in the funding and launch of the Whole Picture Programme.”

Pumfrey added: “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 is 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.”