Actions to take
Equipping team leaders with the skills and knowledge to navigate these conversations is the bedrock of a healthy workplace.
To support your discussions about mental health, consider mental health awareness training for your teams, from either a bespoke training provider or ScreenSkills, which offers free training modules, including an Introduction to mental health awareness at work.
Share our Working Well With Me questionnaire with crew to encourage conversations about individual needs, and recognise that people in leadership roles discussing their own wellbeing play an important part in normalising mental health conversations.
It can be daunting to know how to start mental health and wellbeing conversations with teams, but our guide for line managers and team leaders can help.
In this guide, you can:
- Understand your role as a manager in ensuring your team’s wellbeing
- Learn how to talk to your team about mental health
- See how to approach 1:1 conversations with individuals and what to do if you have concerns
Everyone has their own needs and ways of working – and individual requirements can change during a production, so regular check-ins are crucial.
Plan how you will respond if someone has specific needs, such as those relating to disabilities, caring responsibilities or mental health issues.
They could include adding a portable ramp to your production office, using clear signage for visually impaired people, having a chair on set or location, or providing a ‘quiet area’ for those with sensory issues or anxiety.
Consider including accessibility in your budget lines or hiring an accessibility coordinator to ensure reasonable adjustments are explored carefully.
Meet with individuals on specific adjustments
Ensure you meet with individual crew who may need reasonable adjustments, such as tweaking working hours or modifying desk space and lighting.
Remember that adjustments might also be required for people who need private spaces for prayer or for mothers to breast feed.
At the meeting, ask what adjustments will help, as there may be solutions you haven’t considered.
Adjustments are different for everyone, irrespective of similar circumstances, so it’s vital individuals can lead on what may help them to thrive in the workplace.
Involving crew in making decisions on adjustments can empower them to ask for what they need in the future.
For more specialist advice, consider:
- Guidance from your production company’s HR team if they have one – if not, consider seeking guidance from an external HR expert.
- Bectu’s examples of reasonable adjustments, which can improve the working environment for Disabled or Neurodivergent people.
- Recommendations from Underlying Health Conditions’ 2021 report, produced by a disabled-led pressure group of TV industry professionals.
- GOV.UK’s Access to Work scheme, which provides employment support for those with a physical or mental health condition.
The physical working environment can significantly impact a team’s mental health and wellbeing, particularly when working on long shoots, on location or when dealing with sensitive or challenging material.
Productions are legally required to consider their teams’ physical workspaces, and taking their environment into account can help people feel happier and work more efficiently.
When arranging your physical workspaces:
- Ensure good light levels, a comfortable temperature, appropriate seating and working spaces, and noise reduction wherever possible.
- Provide private spaces for meetings – these shouldn’t take place in personal spaces, such as hotel rooms.
- Never underestimate the importance of providing regular meals and refreshments, and protect time for meal breaks in your schedule.
Certain filming locations and environments may pose potential risks to physical and psychological health.
Flag these risks, which could include filming in a hostile environment, a remote location or one with triggering connotations (such as a prison, abattoir or war zone), during pre-production when completing your mental health risk assessment (MHRA).
As part of your risk assessment, plan actions to mitigate potential risks, such as providing additional support on-site or remotely, regularly checking in with the team and offering options to remain off-site when crew aren’t needed.
Potential risks can change over time, so should be monitored throughout the production to ensure teams remain physically and psychologically safe – and should be reviewed as part of repeated physical and mental health risk assessments.
Also, it’s a good idea to schedule more individual check-ins when risk levels are higher.
Productions can involve long hours and, to save money, it’s often expected that crew will travel long distances when tired or stay in cheap accommodation, which can negatively impact mental health and wellbeing.
Where possible, offer crew members alternative travel options, such as trains, or put them up in good quality overnight accommodation.
If this isn’t possible, commit to shortening prep and wrap times.
When filming abroad, consider mandating business class flights above a certain duration and always factor rest time into your schedule to overcome jet lag and the effects of travelling long distances.