Dignity at Work is at the heart of addressing industry mental health concerns

Philippa Childs · 13 February 2020

A disturbing report from the Film and TV Charity has revealed the extent of the mental health problems suffered by people working in film and TV.

Just a few of the headline figures include 87% of respondents experiencing mental health problems and 64% experiencing depression.

Some of the most shocking findings include 55% had considered suicide compared to the national average of 20% and 10% had actually attempted suicide.

Unfortunately, none of this comes as a surprise to Bectu. We are very aware of the causes of poor mental health in the industry. Insecure employment, long hours culture, lack of protection and support are issues that many workers across the creative industries have to tolerate.

We at Bectu are the people who have been conducting difficult conversations with employers and industry about how these have become the norms and how we can start move away from them. Regrettably, there is still industry reluctance to address these problems.

That is why our Dignity at Work campaign was devised to raise awareness of the multitude of issues that affect our members and their mental health.

The five strands of the campaign: equality, diversity and inclusion; bullying and harassment; quality of working life; talking terms; sticking together, were devised as a direct result of feedback from our members.

The pre-exisitng relationships we have with employers and people working across the creative industries is why Bectu must be involved in these important conversations about mental health. We are constantly in dialogue with the people who took part in the Film and TV Charity’s survey and it is through these conversations we have been able to bring about progressive and practical change.

Some successes Bectu has achieved include: the latest TV drama and major motion picture agreements getting rid of practices such as the “buy-out”, which ensures that people now get paid for every hour they work in the .

Many of our branches also have very well respected ratecards that succeed because all members stick together and reject work if they are offered less in the BECTU ratecard.

Our Eyes Half Shut Campaign has forced employers to begin to acknowledge that there is a consensus in the industry that the working day is far too long.

We look forward to collaborating and sharing our continuous insight with the people who have committed to being involved in the Whole Picture Programme. We will continue to push for innovative and practical solutions.

The answers to these problems lie in changing cultural attitudes and practices. Put simply: everyone should expect to be treated with dignity at work. It is only by employers adopting higher standards that we will be able to bring about the change that is so desperately needed.

Join Bectu now to be part of this incredibly important conversation.