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Film & TV Charity publishes second Looking Glass report into mental health and well-being

Feb 16, 2022

  • Headline wellbeing measure remains stable
  • Proportion reporting mental health as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ holds
  • Optimism that the tide is turning
  • Production boom a double-edged sword as work intensity bites on mental health
  • More than half of respondents experience bullying, harassment, or discrimination in past year
  • Just 10 per cent consider industry a mentally healthy place to work

The Film and TV Charity has published Looking Glass ’21, a follow-up to the charity’s 2019 research that uncovered a mental health crisis in the UK film and TV industry.

The new research was conducted during the summer of 2021 to establish baseline metrics against which the charity will use to measure the industry’s long-term efforts to reverse that crisis, with new questions added to the survey to examine the prevalence, and effects on mental health, of racial harassment and discrimination.

“Despite stability and remarkable resilience in some areas, there is still much more that we must do”

With the new research being conducted at during the Covid-19 pandemic, but as TV and film production was again booming, , the results seen in Looking Glass ’21 can be viewed as a temperature check on mental health and wellbeing in the industry, with a positive outlook in some quarters balanced against deepening concern in others.

While the report summarises that the headline measures of mental health and wellbeing have remained stable despite the challenges of the last couple of years, a more detailed examination of more than 2,000 eligible responses indicates that there is much more work to be done to improve the picture for many working behind the scenes. 

The Looking Glass ’21 report shows:

  • Long hours and well-documented skills gaps are challenging the mental health and wellbeing of many working behind the scenes in film and TV, with the number of people reporting that work intensity was causing poor mental health rising from 63% in 2019 to 78% in 2021
  • 57% of respondents say they experienced bullying, sexual or racial harassment or discrimination, or other harassment or discrimination in the past year alone
  • 39% of Black, Asian and minority ethnic respondents experienced racialised harassment or discrimination; causing 43% of them to consider leaving the industry
  • The number of respondents who say the industry’s culture and values are having a negative impact on mental health has risen from 29% in 2019 to 51% in 2021
  • 74% of disabled respondents considered leaving the industry altogether in the last year due to concerns about their mental health
  • Only 10% of respondents agreed with the statement that the industry is currently a mentally healthy place to work

Alex Pumfrey, CEO at The Film and TV Charity, said:

“2019’s Looking Glass report gave The Film and TV Charity the impetus to get to work to mitigate the serious concerns it found. Two years on, Looking Glass ’21 shows us that, despite stability and remarkable resilience in some areas, there is still much more that we must do – and the urgency is especially acute when we consider the strain being placed on the mental health of people in the industry from under-represented communities, including our disabled workforce and Black, Asian and minority ethnic workforce. In particular, the mental health impacts of individual experiences of racial harassment and discrimination, has been brought to the fore.”

“There is now an industry-wide conversation on mental health, and a growing commitment to from organisations large and small to improve the way we work. The support our Whole Picture Programme partners have shown in helping us to develop new interventions, including the Freelancer Wellbeing Hub and Bullying Advice Service, is evidence of that. However, as we signposted with Let’s Reset, the behaviour change campaign we launched in the autumn, we all need to follow through on those commitments to deliver the tangible change that is so clearly needed.”

“As we prepare to launch our Whole Picture Toolkit, a practical resource that will help to embed mental health and wellbeing best practice into productions, I hope we can support the change needed on-the-ground to improve mental health. But this requires the whole industry to step up to the plate, to make the change real, so that we can see meaningful improvements in the next iteration of the Looking Glass research.”

Read Looking Glass ’21 here.

For more information on The Film and TV Charity and the support it offers people working behind the scenes in film, TV, and cinema, visit the charity’s website.

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