Mental Health Awareness Week: Coping With Covid-19
This article from IBC365 covers the effects of Covid-19 on the film and TV industry. With freelancers and staff across the entire supply chain impacted by business decisions and company closures. During Mental Health Awareness week, Alana Foster investigates what support and initiatives are out there. We have included the contribution our Founder Zeb Chadfield made to the article below:
Founder Zeb Chadfield of The Finish Line – one of the biggest finishing houses in the UK – with clients including Viacom, Warner Bros Television, Fremantle Media and BBC Studios built his business remotely during a recession after struggling with mental health problems of his own.
In 2011, Chadfield had a nervous breakdown and as a result decided to find a way to work remotely for a better work-life balance.
He has since been doing this for years with the psychological and technical considering more pertinent today than ever before.
He tells IBC365 that mental health “is probably the most important thing we can talk about,” pointing to the statistics aforementioned and with one in ten people attempting suicide from mental health challenges “it really is something that needs focus and a lot of change in the industry to better manage it.”
His current focus is on making sure his team are supported to work effectively and balance life as best they can all things considering. As well he is looking at the technical side of the business and working with clients to streamline the intricacies of post production.
He explains: “There are normally more benefits than challenges when working from home but right now being locked down, the working from home situation isn’t so ideal.
“We are social animals so being separated from our social circles isn’t great for our mental health but it is at least a good opportunity to prove that working remotely in the post production industry is possible and hopefully the benefits shine through.”
Chadfield setup The Finish Line as a distributed post production company from the beginning because production budgets were getting tight which meant deadlines were shortened.
He explains his own battles: “I had a nervous breakdown while working in a post house in London and then suffered from extreme depression for a long time after with dips that still hit me from time to time.
“When I was recovering from the nervous breakdown I knew I wanted to continue in the industry and still loved the work but I decided I needed to deconstruct the business model and rebuild it in a way that would create a better chance for a healthier mental state but also to enable healthy a family life in the future.
“Being structured as we are allows everyone to manage their time more efficiently creating time for family and social events to take priority instead of coming second to work. Also there are large gains to be made on saving time and money commuting especially when working in London but also allowing people to work anywhere in the country which means talent can be closer to their families which also helps with childcare and generally has positive effects on mental health too.”
Chadfield, asked what can be done muses that industry standards can be implemented, unions empowered, but, ultimately says: “I can only hope that companies that do look after their people better also attract all the best staff and ultimately that will put pressure on the companies that aren’t doing their bit to up their game but who knows what can be done to deal with this long term and prevent more people going down the same route as me or worse.”
Psychological considerations are far more nuanced, Chadfields adds: “Mental health is very different from person to person so I can look at things in the company and structure them to be better for me but those same changes could have a negative impact on others.
“It’s very important to have an open line of communication with everyone and I do a lot of one on one conversations with everyone to talk about how they are doing and what they are may be struggling with personally and professionally so we can better support them.”
As people around the world have shifted to working remotely, it is easy to feel disconnected and removed from colleagues, friends and family because you are physically.
However, open conversations, sharing of ideas and short messaging platforms can help to bridge this isolation. He adds: “Anything that can help create more interaction between everyone is good.”
If you or someone you know is struggling or experiencing mental health issues, please use the services available for support.
The 24-hour Film and TV Support Line day or night, it is completely free and confidential.
Call 0800 054 00 or chat online here.