So this week I have moderated two fabulous (zoom) discussion panels within the world of TV. And despite being media orientated, both have covered the areas of mental health, wellness and COVID. What emerged for me personally was that these past 15 months have thrown up so many beautiful connections that simply never would have happened in a pre-COVID world. No longer did I need to fly to NY or LA to meet TV execs. A quick click on the zoom, remember to unmute, and off we went – more often than not with limited attire below my waist (not necessarily recommended). The amount of time saved, even just traveling from meeting to meeting, or commuting, means that my time has been utilised in a very different way. Keeping in touch with friends too around the world has felt simpler. It seems so normal now to FaceTime, Zoom or WhatsApp for a quick catch up – and before I know it I have shared conversations with 3 girlfriends in one day and heard all of their news.
Yet as we know it’s not all about quantity, but quality. And call me old-fashioned but I have missed that person-to-person communication. Nothing can replace for me looking into someone’s eyes, feeling their energy, soaking in their body language and sharing a physical space. And it is this space that interests me as someone who cares about the mental wellbeing of my colleagues and friends. Nowadays, I may check in with a team member once a day on zoom, or sometimes once a week. With crew and editors even less. But again it is not just the frequency. When someone is in the same space as me I see their smile or frown as they enter the office. I observe their mannerisms and ingest their tones. I can tell so much more easily if they are struggling, need support or a good old shoulder to cry on.
I was saddened and shocked to read for my research into our panels that according to the 2019 Looking Glass survey carried out by the Film and TV charity 87% of our workforce have experienced a mental health problem, well above the 65% UK-wide figure. And this was pre-COVID, hence the charity are currently updating this work. I fear this most recent survey will offer up even more disturbing data. So on one of our panels we chatted about how we can support our colleagues generally, but particularly with the growth of remote working which has its associated challenges. Whether isolation, loneliness and lack of social contact is the problem, or distractions and the multiple demands of things like home-schooling, what can we do to support those around us? We talked about the feeling that there was generally a greater level of empathy amongst the population since COVID. It felt more acceptable to talk about health – physical or mental – and for us all to be honest and know that it is OK if we are not OK. We talked about expectations shifting when it came to things like mentioning child illness, school runs, and other daily demands that are put on working people. We shared thoughts of random acts of kindness, regular check-ins not connected to work per se, flexibility with hours and schedules and how we were all working towards creating an environment where our teams feel safe, wanted and respected; safe to show up for who they truly are. And to know that they will be listened to. The power of deep listening. And the power of three of my favourite words asked with love, ‘How are you?’
“Listening is often the only thing needed to help someone.”
An Iota of Truth
So that’s it for this week Hubbers. As I await the return of the British sunshine I wish you a good week full of love and light.