The UK’s Film and TV Charity has accelerated its plan to offer mental health support to industry workers with the launch of an online community dedicated to those seeking help during the COVID-19 crisis.

Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, and the charity is hoping the digital tool will provide a safe space for industry professionals, allowing them to express their thoughts and concerns openly and anonymously.

The online community resource, accessible through the charity’s website, has been developed by Big White Wall and is free for everyone working behind the scenes in film and TV.

As well as one-to-one chats, the community also offers 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.

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The charity’s mental health action plan, known as the ’Whole Picture Programme’, was launched in February after a survey found 87% of the country’s workforce said they had experienced a mental health problem.

Since the coronavirus lockdown, and the shutdown of virtually all production in the country, many in the industry are experiencing difficult and worrying times. The charity’s 24-hour support line received more than 1,000 calls in April, four times the average number pre-COVID.

“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,” said Alex Pumfrey, CEO of The Film and Television Charity.

“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 center 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 and 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.”

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