In 2019 the first edition of our ground-breaking Looking Glass research found that 9 in 10 people working in film, TV and cinema in the UK had experienced a mental health problem – compared to 65% in the population as a whole (Source: Mental Health Foundation, 2017). Shockingly more than half (55%) of respondents had considered taking their own life. These findings indicated a mental health emergency in our industry, with its roots in the ‘3 Cs’ of poor working CONDITIONS (including very long hours); an entrenched CULTURE of bullying and stigma around mental health; and a lack of CAPABILITY across the industry to support people.
The Whole Picture Programme was launched in October 2020 as the urgent response to that crisis, with support from an incredible range of industry organisations.
The Looking Glass: tracking mental health in film and TV
In February 2022 we released the data from the second Looking Glass survey conducted in 2021.
There was positive news as headline wellbeing and mental health measures remained stable compared to 2019, and signs of optimism that the tide is indeed beginning to turn, with mental health more openly discussed than ever before.
However, behind the headlines there were some difficult findings, with the production boom bringing opportunity but also incredibly long hours and the inevitable mental health impacts, with 78% saying that work intensity had negatively affected their mental health compared with 63% in the 2019 survey.
Bad behaviours abound or even flourish in this environment and it is alarming to find that the majority of respondents (57%) had experienced bullying, sexual harassment, racial harassment or discrimination, or other forms of harassment or discrimination in the past year alone. Four in 10 (39%) of Black, Asian and minority ethnic respondents had experienced racial harassment or discrimination (which like all forms of harassment and discrimination relating to a protected characteristic are illegal) – which had caused 43% of them to consider leaving the industry.
Half (51%) of respondents said that culture and values had a negative impact on mental health compared with 29% in 2019. In this context it’s perhaps not surprising that only 10% of respondents agreed that the industry is a mentally healthy place to work.
The risk of a ‘leaky bucket’ is very real. In 2019 we found that 63% had ever considered leaving the industry due to mental health concerns, but the 2021 data show that 65% had considered leaving in the past year; and that this rose to a shocking 74% of disabled respondents.
The third edition of the Looking Glass will be conducted in 2022, and run every two years thereafter.
The Looking Glass ‘19 report by the Work Foundation
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