Actions you can take
Have regular check-ins with staff. These don’t have to take long; they can be five minutes at a set time each week, or whenever possible. It’s a chance to remind them that their wellbeing is important and give them the opportunity to discuss any issues, questions or support needs. If it’s an agenda item in regular meetings, put it at the top rather than the end of the meeting, to signal that it’s a priority. Often, the most important thing you can do is to really listen to what the other person is saying. Here are some tips to help you talk to your team about mental health.
Plan out how you will respond if someone has specific needs, like living with a disability or caring responsibilities. This might start with organising a follow-up meeting where you can discuss some reasonable adjustments you could put in place, like tweaking working hours or the working environment e.g. desk space or lighting. It could mention places you can direct them for additional support, like Access to Work. Ask what adjustments they think would help, as it may well be something you have not thought of. Including employees in discussions can empower them to ask for what they need in the future.
Productions can also seek guidance from the company’s HR team if they have one, but if they don’t, you may decide you need guidance from an external HR expert. Bectu gives some examples of reasonable adjustments which can be put in place to improve the working environment for deaf and disabled people. Checking that everyone has even basic needs considered such as accessible toilets, helps ensure they are treated with dignity and respect. However, reasonable adjustments are different for every individual, even those with the same disability, so it’s vital to let each person lead on what would help them to thrive in the workplace.
People in senior positions honestly sharing their own experience or how they support their own wellbeing plays an incredibly important part in normalising mental health and encouraging others to share too. However, there should be no pressure to disclose anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Add the Support Line number to crew passes, call sheets, schedules and scripts. You can put up Support Line posters in catering areas, on the back of toilet doors and car parks. Browse and download all The Film and TV Charity resources here.
Another way of supporting individuals’ needs in the middle of a busy production is to make a physical space or time away available. Ideally, this will be a welcoming and safe place where they can go if they need privacy or are feeling overwhelmed, or the option to get some fresh air. This can be especially important if you’re working on tough subject matter. Having a space can also be helpful for breastfeeding parents, those of particular religions who need a space to pray, or people who have an illness or a disability and need to rest or take medication.