Actions to take
This is the moment to bring senior leaders together to agree support, at the start of pre-production – in the same way you would hold a health and safety, sustainability, or creative meeting.
It’s the first opportunity to set the tone by normalising conversations around mental health and wellbeing.
In these discussions, the senior team should understand how their decision-making can impact wellbeing.
They should also know what support is available to them and who they can talk to if they need to escalate issues.
In the following guide, you can:
- See how to plan your meeting
- Find ideas for your meeting agenda
These could be bullet points or a full code of conduct – depending on what your company has in place already.
And, you may wish to add or create specific values, where relevant, to certain productions.
There are some great industry examples of values that you could adopt or adapt, such as:
- Aardman – Dignity at Work: This document outlines values and expected behaviours that support ambitions such as integrity, collaboration – and even humour!
- BFI/BAFTA inclusion principles: These nine simple statements aim to tackle and prevent bullying, harassment and racism in the industry.
Whatever you use, think about how to make everyone on your production aware of your values throughout.
Companies are obliged to protect the health and safety of their employees – including taking steps to prevent undue stress.
Start your assessment early so you have time to review the project and identify risk areas, and put the right support provisions and preventative measures in place.
For example, does the schedule involve difficult working conditions or will the teams work with sensitive content?
As you add to your assessment, consider the different experiences of those working on your production, and who will be responsible for supporting them.
In the following guide, you can:
- Learn how to put a mental health risk assessment (MHRA) together
- Download an editable MHRA template
- Download an example MHRA
Ensure your budget can cover mental health and wellbeing needs.
Ideally, adequate financial provision for mental health and wellbeing requirements will have been discussed and agreed with your commissioner/financier at greenlight.
If not, have this conversation with them as soon as possible.
Your budget could fund, for example, the provision of reasonable adjustments for Disabled people.
Employers are legally obliged to make reasonable changes in the workplace to enable Disabled people, including those with mental health conditions, to carry out their work.
They can advise senior team leaders and address crew members. Support can include:
Mental health first aiders : You could train some of your team as mental health first aiders – but they’re only trained to listen and signpost, not to intervene. Some crew may already have this training, so do check.
Wellbeing facilitator : Your senior team could benefit from such an expert who would have mental health and wellbeing responsibilities on set.
This may be provided through the broadcaster, or the production company, and might include:
- An employee assistance programme : Tell crew what assistance is available, who is eligible (such as hair, make-up and craft – not just editorial) and when (before, during or after production).
- An individual assistance programme : Companies can also choose to support freelancers with short term support.
- Therapy for individuals: This can be offered, depending on the challenges of a production – such as those with sensitive content. Some broadcasters are prepared to put this in place, so it’s worth checking.
You may want to review your wellbeing plan against specific industry standards.
These policies include:
- Bectu welfare policy principles: Covers a range of mental health and wellbeing policy areas.
- Coalition for Change Freelancers’ Charter: Covers recruitment, training and working hours as well as tackling bullying and harassment.
In this video, April explains how her company built their use of the Toolkit over two productions, by rolling out low-cost actions.
These actions helped crew members feel ‘seen and heard’ on set, and they were able to take their learnings on to other productions.
- Holding a wellbeing meeting for all crew and staff during pre-production.
- Adding links to support, including the Film and TV Support Line details, to the call sheet.
- Carrying out check-ins with crew members at the end of the shoot, and during post-production editing.