Film and TV Charity launches community platform to support people during COVID-19

The Film+TV Charity has launched an online community for workers in film, TV and cinema who are seeking mental health support amid the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Launched at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, the online community resource was developed by Big White Wall and can be accessed by everyone working behind the scenes in film and TV for free. This online tool provides a safe space for industry professionals, allowing them to express their thoughts and concerns openly and anonymously.

Self-help resources and mental health plan

As well as receiving support in group or one-to-one chats, they can access guided self-help courses on managing a range of mental health difficulties, including depression, stress, panic and grief, as well as problem-solving and assertiveness training. The platform also offers self-assessment tools and allows people to track their progress. Community posts are monitored 24/7 to ensure safety and anonymity.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the Film+TV Charity is now accelerating its mental health action plan, known as the Whole Picture Programme. Launched in February after a survey for the Film+TV Charity found 87% of the UK film and TV workforce has experienced a mental health problem, the action plan is being extended rapidly to increase mental health support with wellbeing services, developed in partnership with Mind. The Film+TV Charity continues to lead the Film and TV Taskforce on Mental Health, established to implement the Whole Picture Programme.

COVID-19 funds

This comes as the Film+TV Charity distributes much-needed funds to workers and freelancers hit hard by the closure of productions across the UK. A survey for the Film+TV Charity found that more than 9 industry freelancers in 10 (93%) were no longer working due to the crisis while three quarters (74%) did not expect to receive any support since they were not eligible for government support schemes or had not been furloughed.

Launched last month, the Film+TV Charity’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund – providing one-off grants of between £500 and £2,500 depending on need – awarded a total of £3 million across 2000 applicants. A further £140,000 has been distributed via the charity’s long-standing Hardship Fund to nearly 400 people receiving stopgap grants of up to £500 covering essential living costs.

24-Hour Support Line

Meanwhile, the charity’s free 24-hour Film+TV Support Line, providing advice on mental health as well as financial and legal problems, received over 1000 calls in April, four times the average number during the two years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alex Pumfrey, CEO of the Film+Television Charity, said:

Mental Health Awareness Week is an opportunity to reflect on the mental wellbeing of a brilliant, successful and creative community that’s having to cope with the toughest challenges imaginable... The online community we’re launching today gives everyone in film, TV and cinema an opportunity to talk openly and anonymously, giving as well as receiving advice, comfort and support. Coupled with online courses on dealing with mental health difficulties, the online community will provide a much-needed resource for those who feel left out and isolated, and aren’t able to turn to company structures for help.

As the industry now works out how best to return to work it is vital that we put both physical and mental wellbeing considerations front and centre of our plans for recovery. We need to consider the mental pressures and anxiety that thousands of people in the workforce are experiencing and be conscious of the fact that many will also have unresolved financial problems. The Film+TV Charity will continue to highlight the importance of mental wellbeing in our industry, and do all we can to support people through, and out of the current crisis.”

See more about the work of the Film+TV Charity: