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Freelancers feel increasingly supported in their wellbeing but financial worries take a toll on their mental health, according to the Film and TV Charity’s third Looking Glass report.

The charity welcomed the industry’s steps to tackle mental health since its first report in 2019, though chief executive Alex Pumfrey said it was starting from a “very low bar”.

Of around 2,000 people completing the survey, 80% said there had been a “positive change” in attitudes. Meanwhile, 35% of freelance workers said there was capability across the industry to give workers the support they need to do their roles, up from 26% in 2021.

Overall, the working environment was seen as being more receptive to discussions about mental health: 51% of respondents reported positive attitudes among their colleagues towards those experiencing mental health issues, up from 43% in 2021.

But only 11% said TV and film is a mentally healthy industry, a negligible change on the previous 10%.

One in four (24%) said they struggle with their mental health, a slight improvement on the previous year’s 29%. 

Though the survey was completed prior to the cost-of-living crisis, financial worries were at the front of many people’s minds.

With 16% saying they found it difficult to manage financially and 22% saying they were ‘just getting by’, the charity extrapolated this to say that more than 35,000 people working in film and TV are in financial distress.

Just over a third (34%) of freelancers said late payments for completed work are making it harder for them to manage their money.

Overall, 24% of respondents struggled to concentrate at work due to money issues and 30% said losing sleep worrying about their finances left them feeling too tired to work.

One in five said they are “just getting by” and 75% are worried about future income. Meanwhile, 27% said they had to take work outside the industry to make ends meet.

The report also identified the burnout risk faced by the 37% of respondents who worked 48 or more weeks in the year to summer 2022, up from 29% in the previous survey, as these would not have taken the minimum statutory leave.

Some 35% said work stopped them from making plans with their friends and family, up from 29% in 2021.

While the proportion who had considered leaving the industry for their wellbeing dropped from 65% to 60%, this masked two stark stats: 71% of 40-44 year-old men had thought about it, and two-thirds of women aged 25-59.

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