Helping someone else

Supporting someone at work with mental health struggles can be hard, so we’ve put together some guidance to help you. 
A camera operator and their assistant is standing waist-deep in lake water whilst filming a fisherman that is crouching down on an old pontoon. In the distance is a woodland area on the other side of the lake.

Awareness of the importance of mental health in our industry is increasing. Half the respondents to our most recent Looking Glass Survey reported positive attitudes to mental health among their day-to-day colleagues. While this is positive and a reason for optimism, a quarter also told us that their own mental health was either poor” or very poor”. 

We still live in a world where people face challenges getting support. Fear of discrimination and shame are among the top reasons people give for not opening up to colleagues about their mental health. 

Signs that a colleague might need support include: 

  • Changes in someone’s personality, behaviour, or routine
  • Arriving late
  • Seeming stressed, tired or anxious
  • Avoiding social activities
  • Having trouble concentrating

If you think a colleague might be in distress, how you deal with it may depend on the nature of your relationship, the seriousness of what you are observing, or what they tell you. For example, if they’re a friend, they might just be looking for a safe space to talk. If it’s someone you manage, or their problems are impacting on their ability to do their job or on the wider wellbeing of the team, you might have to seek further advice and support for yourself to manage the situation. 

Guidance for supporting someone else

We have put together some guidance to help you deal with a variety of different situations:

  1. How to talk to someone in distress
  2. How to signpost someone to further support
  3. What to do if you think someone is at risk”
  4. Guidance on how to support colleagues, as a friend or as a line manager
  5. How to put mental wellbeing on the agenda at work

Peer support

There’s lots of evidence to suggest that peer support is beneficial for empowering and supporting people. Benefits include a sense of shared identity, support, and access to a wide range of knowledge and expertise. For example, The TV Mindset is a peer network set up to support the mental health of TV and film freelancers and to bring meaningful change to working practices in the industry. Deaf & Disabled People in TV is a disabled-led organisation made up of people who work in the industry

Our Freelance Connector Grants programme funded the 10 film and TV freelancer networks listed below. The scheme found that these projects have a significant positive effect on the mental wellbeing of their members, connecting often lonely and isolated industry workers who lack relationships with people like them’ in their working environments. 

  • Wonder Women connects a diverse range of freelance women who work in production, corporate, and editorial roles in TV to industry leaders for year-long mentoring, monthly masterclasses and informal peer support. 
  • Film and TV Carers Club is run by Carers for Carers, to provide a more open dialogue about caring responsibilities, with a web presence, informal peer-to-peer support and monthly online meetings. 
  • The Black Film and TV Forum is a peer support group for Black film and TV professionals in the West Midlands. Meeting weekly to offer support, industry opportunities, networking and collaboration. They also host special events with industry leaders and provide a weekly newsletter. 
  • British Arab Writers Group is an informal collective that meets remotely to provide support by sharing job opportunities, troubleshooting work-based issues, collaborating creatively, and building friendships. 
  • Trans On Screen is an online talent directory representing trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming professionals in all areas of film and TV, from pre-production to distribution. They regularly organise meetups, events and workshops throughout the UK. 
  • Skye Films Ltd A new community initiative that aims to connect freelance workers living in remote regions in Scotland. They host occasional in-person meetings on Skye, plus regular online meetups. 
  • Peer Support Groups – Film in Mind is a new initiative designed to support Documentary filmmakers in setting up their own peer-support networks, as well as providing facilitation, training, and ongoing supervision. 
  • The Black Costume Network is creating an open and safer space for UK Black and Mixed-Race creatives in the costume industry, focusing on positivity, support, and action. The network provides career advice, wellbeing support, online and in-person meet-ups. 
  • BEAM Network (British East & South East Asians in media) is an online community of 1600+ members, dedicated to supporting British East and South East Asians working behind the scenes in the film, television, and media industry. BEAM Network runs regular informal meetups and networking events. 
  • We Are Doc Women was founded in 2017 to provide peer support for female directors working in factual film and television across the UK. They now number almost 2,000 women from researchers to Executive Producers. They advocate for equal opportunities, greater support, and fair recognition within the industry.

There are many other groups out there – often aimed at supporting people from underrepresented communities and those facing additional barriers. Among other things, they provide professional support, social connections and networking opportunities. 

A TV editor is sat to an editing desk that has a large mixing desk. In front of him is a large playback screen with the image of a small catamaran sailing boat.

Mentally healthy productions

We have created the Whole Picture Toolkit to help support people at all levels of production, and to guide managers and senior creative leaders in looking after the mental health of crew members.

Love the film, TV and cinema industry?

Subscribe to our newsletter to hear about new support services, pilot schemes, opportunities, events, roundtables, appeals, industry news and more.