British commercial broadcaster ITV has appointed a mental health advisory group, to be chaired by member of Scottish parliament Ruth Davidson.
The advisory group which will provide guidance and support on all aspects of ITV and Scottish broadcaster STV’s approach to mental health and well-being among its people, production teams, participants in its shows and audiences.
The Mental Health Advisory Group will meet four times a year to bring ideas and feedback and provide practical advice, to be reflected in ITV and STV’s policies and decision-making.
Davidson (pictured), who has a background in journalism and was previously leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, will join Paul Farmer, CEO of mental health charity Mind; Emma Thomas, CEO of Young Minds; and Billy Watson, CEO of the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), on the board.
The move is part of ITV’s five-year mental wellness campaign and follows the company’s recently set guidelines for protecting program participants, along with its Duty of Care Charter, which lays out its commitment to the mental and physical well-being of all people working for, or with, ITV.
The new initiative comes as discussions on mental wellness in unscripted television take place at many levels of the industry.
The UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee (DCMS) launched an inquiry last May into reality television production practices — specifically, “production companies’ duty of care to participants” — in the wake of the death of a guest taking part in an episode of tabloid talk show The Jeremy Kyle Show, and the deaths of two former contestants of hit ITV competition series Love Island.
“Television can have a huge impact on people’s lives and on the life of the nation. Creating a culture which supports the mental health of one another is so important and ITV and STV’s position means they can make a real difference in working towards this goal,” said Davidson, in a statement.
“I’m excited to be involved in ITV and STV’s efforts to bring mental wellbeing to the centre of our national conversation. It is so important to talk. The advisory group will have a huge role in setting the broadcasters’ overall mental health strategy and I look forward to working with ITV and STV to make a genuine difference to people’s lives.”
Added ITV CEO Carolyn McCall: “Ruth’s background in media and politics and her courage to talk publicly about mental health in her own life, make her absolutely the right person to chair ITV’s Mental Health Advisory Group. Ruth will bring energy, passion and judgement to a hugely important role and alongside the new members we’re announcing today, Paul Farmer from Mind, Emma Thomas from Young Minds and Billy Watson from SAMH, will help ITV and STV to ensure we deliver on our top priority: caring for the mental health and wellness of our own people, those who make and take part in our programs and, of course, the millions of people who watch our programs.”
(Photo from Ruth Davidson’s Twitter account)