Actions you can take
This is your opportunity to discuss your production’s mental health needs. Book the meeting once all key heads of department have started. If you’re working with a small team, just bring in the decision-makers on the project. This is also the time to make sure that the senior team knows what support is available to them and who they can speak to if they need to escalate any issues. People management positions are highly demanding and it’s important leaders are also supported. Holding a senior team meeting is simple and should be part of pre-production planning in the same way that you might have a health and safety meeting, or a creative meeting. Find tips on how to hold a senior team wellbeing meeting.
Production companies have a legal obligation to protect health and safety and this includes looking at ways to prevent or reduce stress and mental health issues from impacting anyone working on the production, where reasonably possible. Carrying out a mental health risk assessment early on will help you to identify potential areas of risk and where appropriate support provisions and preventative measures are needed. People have different experiences and pressures on production, so it’s important to think broadly about what risks are present and think about diversity when carrying out the risk assessment. This is also the time to make sure anyone who is assigned responsibility for supporting others is clear on what help is available. Click here for guidance and a downloadable mental health risk assessment template.
You may choose to train a certain proportion of your team as Mental Health First Aiders , but bear in mind they’re only trained to listen and signpost, not intervene. Some members of your team may already have had this training, so it’s good to check. If your budget allows, you may want to bring in additional staff with specific mental health and wellbeing responsibilities, for example a Wellbeing Facilitator on set. You could also consider providing access to a therapist or psychologist . Putting psychological support in place is part and parcel of creating a mentally healthy production for all involved.
Does your production have limited resources? There are still great ways you can support your team — watch this case study from April Kelley at Mini Productions for some ideas.
These could be some simple bullet points or a full code of conduct, depending on what the production company already has in place and what the senior team feels is most relevant on this production. You could also adopt or adapt the BFI/BAFTA principles (nine simple statements), the Coalition for Change Freelancers’ Charter (a full code of conduct for the TV industry) or the Bectu Welfare Policy principles. You can also download another great example of values and expected behaviour provided by Aardman. Think about how you’ll make your crew aware of these values throughout the production.
Set expectations about conduct and how bullying, racism, harassment, and other forms of discrimination or inappropriate behaviour will be handled. You can read more about bullying, racism, harassment and discrimination in Mini Guide 2 here.