Production companies are obliged to the reduce stress and the mental health issues of their crew under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Completing a mental health risk assessment will help you identify potential stressors (aka hazards) and their risk levels.
By considering these for your production, and creating an action plan, you can help to prevent stress and burnout, and keep the team safe and motivated.
While stress isn’t classified as a mental health condition, it can lead to mental health issues and conditions, including anxiety disorders and depression.
When carrying out a risk assessment, it’s important to think inclusively about the different experiences and pressures involved in your production and consider diversity.
Preparing a mental health risk assessment can also help you pinpoint which Toolkit actions to take – from our guides and templates – to help your specific production.
How to manage an MHRA
During this process, ensure all those involved are clear on the help available to complete an assessment – and deliver the actions.
Your draft risk assessment should be shared with relevant experts and stakeholders – including your health and safety risk advisor – for review and sign-off.
Before doing this, consider how you manage personal data, and comply with GDPR rules.
The risk assessment should be reviewed regularly, particularly once mitigating actions are delivered and if related incidents occur.
Completing an MHRA
A mental health risk assessment identifies potential hazards, their risk levels and the control measures that can be put in place – in the form of specific actions.
Based on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Management Standards on stress, our risk assessment template groups workplace stressors into six key work areas.
- Demands: such as workload, working patterns and the work environment
- Relationships: including bullying and harassment, conflict and management style
- Support: including the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the industry as well as production, line management and colleagues
- Role: including whether crew members understand their role on the production and how the production supports them
- Control: including how much control crew have in the way that they work
- Change: including how organisational change is managed and communicated while on the production
To complete your assessment, you’ll need to:
- Identify each issue against the hazard areas
- Classify the risk levels, based on probability and severity
- Outline how each issue can be controlled via actions
- Classify the risk levels if those actions were to be taken
- Assign responsibilities and dates for implementing actions
How to identify issues
Consider three areas when identifying the potential stress and mental health hazards for your production:
- Industry related
- General work related
- Individual related
1. Industry-related issues
The context of a shoot can trigger or contribute to the stress or anxiety felt by the cast and crew, on unscripted and scripted productions, so consider:
- Locations, for example, if the crew are working in places such as an abattoir, prison or a specific place associated with harrowing events – or if they’re in environments where they may experience acculturation stress
- Remote working and loneliness, especially if crew members are working alone or cut off from friends, family or normal life for periods of time
- World events that could personally impact or trigger strong memories and emotions, such as Covid, the Black Lives Matter protests or political unrest
- Schedules – especially if one involves working long hours or is particularly tight
- Filming in bio-secure environments, such as Covid bubbles
- If previous experience of a production highlights areas that need further support
Filming can cause stress or trigger mental health issues, on scripted and unscripted productions, especially if the subject matter has personally impacted a crew member.
Sensitive and triggering content includes:
- Disasters, military conflict, sexual abuse, torture, physical abuse, illness or health issues, crime, terrorism, racism, harassment, mental health, or suicide
- Content relating to bereavement, emotional distress or a relationship breakdown
- Any other harrowing content
The relationships between production team members and anyone front-of-camera can be stressful to manage.
Working with vulnerable contributors vulnerable contributors – vulnerable contributors is a term that refers to members of the public who are vulnerable due to their own health or circumstances (such as participants in documentaries about a disease or families of those killed by terrorism), though it can include those who may be at risk of harm as a result of taking part in a programme (such as reality show participants who are vilified by social media or ostracised by family members). Close can place extra pressure on production workers’ mental health.
When working with contributors, consider:
- Ofcom’s broadcasting code on fairness, which relates to working with contributors who are vulnerable or may become vulnerable, and how they should be treated
- Training on managing boundaries, safeguarding and working with vulnerable contributors
- The support needed for producers to manage contributor relationships after shooting has finished until transmission
- Everyone who has regular or significant contact with your contributors, including runners and hair and make-up artists
- The challenges of working with actors or presenters who are themselves experiencing stress
2. General work-related issues
There are several frameworks for reducing stress and mental health issues in the workplace, including the HSE Management Standards, the Mental Health at Work Commitment and the global standard ISO 45003.
Consider how workplace risk factors may impact the stress levels of your crew and cast, and how you can provide appropriate support.
The Film and TV Charity’s Looking Glass survey highlights the main workplace stressors in the film and TV industry.
3. Individual issues
You have a duty of care for your workers and appropriate support should be provided to enable them to work effectively.
It’s important to consider:
- Vulnerable people, including those who have an existing illness or those who might be more susceptible to stress at work
- Individuals who may have a pre-existing mental health condition or experience stress when exposed to certain triggers
- Individuals who may need time to deal with a bereavement or recover from a stressful situation
Be clear that you’re open to discussing reasonable adjustments, such as flexible working hours or providing a quiet workspace, and how any personal information will be shared.
To learn more about what help and support individuals may need, see our guide and template: How to work well with your crew.
With the following Word templates you can:
- Create a mental health risk assessment for your production:
- See a completed example to understand typical issues and risk levels in film and TV:
As we regularly review Toolkit content, if you have any suggestions to improve this guide, or any part of the site, we would love to hear from you.