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Mental Health Awareness Week: don’t suffer alone; your union and your industry is here to help you

9 May 2022

The 9th-15th May marks Mental Health Awareness Week, a time to reflect on and evaluate how mentally healthy our workplaces are and encourage everyone to invest in their and others’ wellbeing. This year’s theme is loneliness, something that many creative workers will be familiar with. The long hours culture that plagues the industry, and the isolating nature of freelance work, can lead to uneven shift patterns, an unequal work-life balance, a lack of time with family and friends and ultimately, poor mental health.

Photo of Head of Bectu Philippa Childs. Photo credit - Craig Fleming Photographer/ https://www.craigfleming.net/

Being a Bectu member offers not only support but a community of creatives, that can all relate to the challenges of finding and maintaining the right work-life balance and coping with the stresses creative work can bring. We work closely with many inspiring organisations and groups that work tirelessly to better the lives of creatives across the UK, such as Share My Telly Job, a campaign group led by freelancers who are championing job sharing to help people achieve a better work-life balance. Share My Telly Job is committed to educating broadcasters and production companies about the benefits of flexible work, and their initiative The Time Project lets users log  hours worked and provides data around rates and hours across the sector, allowing users to ensure that any overtime worked is properly tracked. We encourage all of our members to start logging your hours today.

The industry is full of similar positive examples of collaboration such as TV Mindset who are working to improve r mental health in television.

The recent publication of the Film and TV Charity’s Looking Glass ’21 report provided a picture of working conditions in the film and TV industry, and how major issues such as hours, bullying and harassment and talent retention are impacting workers. Bectu welcomed such necessary research and the report’s assertion that only with concerted action can change happen.

In response to the unsustainable levels of mental health-related issues in the industry , the Film and TV Charity’s Whole Picture Toolkit for mentally healthy productions is another fantastic example of positive industry collaboration. The online resource provides real life examples of best practice, templates and guidance, personal one-to-one support and one of the UK’s largest anonymous online communities for mental health support. There are many industry changemakers who have supported and championed this piece of invaluable work and we are proud to be a part of it.

Similarly, 6 ft from the spotlight, combines industry knowledge with their training as mental health, wellbeing, leadership and employment law experts to deliver support to production and crew. Their signature new role, wellbeing facilitators, support management cast and crew throughout the entire production process, including on-set support for crew.

As a union, promoting good mental health at work is a priority, which is reflected in our campaigns and policy development. Our Unscripted branch recently published new guidance on fertility issues at work, and our London Production Division has launched a member-led welfare policy, to support the mental health of those working film and TV. We hope both of these documents will be widely used and shared across the industry and provide employers with the tools to take better care of their workers’ mental health, whether staff or freelancer.

We have recently launched our Work to Live campaign, demanding better working conditions in scripted TV drama, to support many of our members whom are suffering from burn out and low morale. In theatres our Fit4Purpose campaign aims to change the  industry for the better, tackling long working hours, low pay and creating a fairer working environment.

If you want to explore Bectu’s content and guides on mental health, head over to our mental health hub, where you will find lots of resources that provide support, guidance, best practice and a range of great events and online sessions that we will be running throughout May.

We will continue to work with our industry partners to push for better working conditions and mentally healthy workplaces for all our members. At Bectu, your mental health will always be supported and promoted; no one’s mental health should suffer because of or at work.


Mental Health Awareness Week

9-15 May 2022