Poor mental health has been recognised as a serious problem across the creative industries for many years. A strong desire to do something positive to support the current workforce and to make the industry safer for those entering the industry led to CULT Cymru and 6ft from the Spotlight to commit to working together in piloting the Wellbeing Facilitator role in Wales’ burgeoning screen sector.
We are awaiting confirmation of a grant that production companies/employers can apply for to take on a Wellbeing Facilitator onto their productions in Wales.
One key priority is that WBFs are widely available including small, local production companies working on scripted or unscripted productions programmes. Three models have been developed, they are:
- Medium or Large Scale scripted productions. A WBF placed on a production for 3-5 days a week
- Small Scale productions. A WBF placed on a production 1 day a week.
- Subscription Model. Initial support provided followed by a WBF available for productions for 1 day per month equivalent for six months.
We are currently working with Creative Wales on a grant for production companies to place a Wellbeing Facilitator on their productions. Whilst this is confirmed, please complete our Expression of Interest Form.
What does the WBF do?
The role of the Wellbeing Facilitator on productions is to support and advise the Heads of Department (HoD) and Producers on how best to meet their legal duty of care to the crew* and cast as a neutral third party.
They can assist with de-escalating and investigating instances of bullying, harassment and discrimination. They are also there to actively support the cast and crew with their own mental health, resilience and wellbeing as they work.
The WBF can also provide coaching and support for HoDs and producers where necessary to reduce stress and prevent issues arising from difficult management situations.
NB: The Wellbeing Facilitator is not a counsellor or therapist and will not diagnose illness or clinical conditions. They will, however, signpost and refer an individual for expert support where necessary.
- Agree Policy, escalation and thresholds for bullying and harassment processes.
Working with the producers and production company to define the processes to deal with any incidents of bullying or harassment with a view to de-escalation, mediation and education in the first instance. All to dovetail with any existing policies and procedures.
- Write and Agree the Production Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy.
This will set the tone of the production and help to reduce stigma allowing people to come forward.
- Write and agree the Production Stress/Mental Health Risk Assessments (Environment, Content etc.)
Stress and mental health risk assessments are required by law. The risk assessment will take into account the context of the production (eg location, Covid restrictions, other threats) and the content (eg script, crew/cast demographic) any responses from the Personal Wellbeing Plan and propose control measures to help prevent MH issues, support those with existing issues and also reduce the impact of the production on the MH of the crew and cast.
- Communicate importance and function of role with cast and crew
Attend pre-production and HoD meetings to introduce the concepts of the WBF to the senior crew and where necessary offer training with regard to their remit and the various policies.
- Write and issue Personal Wellbeing plans for the crew and cast.
A questionnaire which is issued to crew and cast prior to the production so that they can disclose any issues, triggers or concerns about their Mental Health and wellbeing. This informs the risk assessments and allows the WBF to formulate support plans should the need arise. The personal wellbeing plan is confidential and voluntary.
- Set Up Peer Networks for additional support offer
Create a peer network across the production so that crew and cast can discuss any Mental Health or wellbeing initiatives/issues to support each other. It may be that 2 people have the same illness and therefore can support each other through the production.
PRODUCTION/POST PRODUCTION – Part-time on-location based on risk assessments.
- Lead on de-escalation of bullying or harassment issues
Where necessary intervene as per the policies and procedures agreed to de-escalate and resolve incidents of bullying and harassment by coaching HoDs and crew/cast. Where necessary facilitate mediation, investigation and recommend further action. This is to allow the production to continue and HoDs to remain focussed on managing their teams efficiently.
- Implement controls from Stress/Mental Health risk assessment. (Legally required)
For example, where crew have disclosed an issue or a trigger the WBF can organise regular check ins with them and support if a particular scene/schedule or location may cause them an issue.
- Offer team and management coaching
The WBF can assist the HoD and their team with challenges as they arise and can additionally draw on the team of specialists at 6ft From the Spotlight should any challenges require an expert coaching approach or strategy. Intervening at early stages with teams can reduce conflict and stress and improve creativity and wellbeing.
- Active signposting for help
The WBF will signpost crew and cast to specific and helpful resources that may support them. These may be clinical professionals or community-based support.
- Suggest and implement positive prevention Initiatives for production
For example, creating a small safe space for crew to talk or reminding crew to look after their own wellbeing with tips on sleep hygiene, emotional regulation, mindfulness, distress reduction etc
- Support and supervise existing Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA’s) and other dual roles
The WBF will provide support to any other crew members who are trained as MHFA’s. MHFA’s also need support especially when working in busy roles themselves. The WBF will act as an advisor to the MHFA’s and check that they are supported and able to cope with the demands.
- Engage in active listening to support crew and production
90% of the time crew and cast benefit from an independent party who has time to listen to their issues and who is able to provide a safe space to discuss their challenges. The presence of the WBF on a production allows this dialogue to occur without fear of recrimination.
- Liaise with H&S/Unit/Set Medic on mental health/wellbeing issues
Coordinate with the medic to ensure there is a co-ordinated response to any incidents or issues. Physical health and mental health are related. For example, fatigue or heat exhaustion can cause stress.
- Review and Reflection
The WBF will conduct a review of the production and any incidents in order to draw upon any learnings to facilitate improvements. They will also survey the crew and cast for their thoughts and opinions for improvement.
- Continued Support
The WBF will continue to support crew and cast for an agreed period after the production has ended.
How do crew and cast access the WBF?
The WBF is available at all pre-agreed times either on production or remotely. Where the risk assessments highlight key triggers (Long days, distressing scenes, night shoots etc) the WBF will ensure they are able to offer appropriate support.
Bullying and Harassment
Any reports of bullying/harassment are taken seriously and the WBF as a third party can offer robust support across the parties involved. The WBF will help the production implement the 8 BFI principles and others as advised via CULT Cymru e.g. Bectu’s Welfare Guidance. The WBF will discuss the production specific reporting procedures with the senior crew and adhere to the requirements. WBF’s are trained in ways to navigate and support with incidents on bullying and harassment.
Additionally, WBF’s are fully supported by the team at 6ft From the Spotlight where they can access guidance from a team of behavioural, mental health and legal specialists.
Support for WBF’s
Each WBF has an experienced member of the 6ft From the Spotlight team as their supervisor/mentor and will be given robust support themselves throughout the production. Additionally, should they require specialised guidance or expert interventions in terms of mental health, wellbeing, bullying and harassment, safeguarding or the law – this can be accessed via 6ft From the Spotlight by the WBF at any stage.
Additional support and information will be provided via CULT Cymru around Wales specific laws and policies and support organisations.
Should a production wish to feedback at any point about their WBF they will have direct access to 6ft From the Spotlight. We will work with productions to ensure that each WBF is appropriately placed within the context of the particular production and the needs of the crew.
*the term crew is used to include all those working behind the scenes on production including writers, post production, caterers, security etc.
Key contacts for the WBF pilot in Wales:
Michelle White Siân Gale
6ft from the Spotlight CULT Cymru