Sometimes, Platt — a former actor — is involved before filming begins, helping writers turn harrowing autobiographical material into scripts. Other times, she introduces herself to the cast and crew at the start of filming, and lets them know they can call her. She’s also there for film editors who have to watch harrowing scenes over and over while finishing off a show.
The presence of on-set and on-call therapists is particularly notable in British film and TV, which has been involved in an industrywide discussion about mental health since 2017, when Michael Harm, a location manager who had worked on numerous movies including the Harry Potter franchise, killed himself.
The day he died, Harm sent a letter to a colleague, Sue Quinn, saying he had nowhere to turn for help with struggles at work, and urging her to change that for others in the industry.
“You’re pushed, pushed, pushed and pushed to the limit, all the time,” said Quinn, also a location manager, about the experience of working on a typical set. That’s especially true, she said, when producers prioritize remaining on budget over mental health. Actors and crew work exhausting hours and many experience bullying, she added.
After receiving the letter, Quinn approached a British nonprofit that supports movie and TV workers experiencing financial troubles, and asked it to develop a help line for workers experiencing issues including depression, anxiety and bullying as well as financial stress. The following year, that organization, the Film and TV Charity, started a 24-hour phone line: It received around 7,000 calls in 2020, said Valeria Bullo, a member of the charity’s mental health team.