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Rt Hon Ruth Davidson, MSP to chair new ITV Mental Health Advisory Group

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Rt Hon Ruth Davidson, MSP to chair new ITV Mental Health Advisory Group

ITV has announced that the Rt Hon Ruth Davidson, MSP, will be the chair of its new Mental Health Advisory Group.

Ruth will join Paul Farmer, CEO of mental health charity, Mind, Emma Thomas, CEO of Young Minds and Billy Watson, CEO of SAMH, on the advisory group which will provide guidance and support on all aspects of ITV, and STV’s, approach to mental health and wellbeing among its people, production teams, participants in its shows and audiences. 

This announcement follows the launch of Britain Get Talking, supported by Mind, Young Minds and SAMH, which is the first stage of ITV’s new five year Mental Wellness Campaign at the heart of its Social Purpose strategy.  

ITV also recently published new guidelines for producers on protecting programme participants with a focus on the mental health of the people who appear on its shows and its Duty of Care Charter, which laid out its commitment to the mental and physical well-being of all people working for, or with, ITV. 

As Chair, Ruth will lead the group as it advises both on best existing practice and on evolving new thinking on mental health to help ITV and STV prioritise changes or improvements. 

The Mental Health Advisory Group will meet four times a year to bring ideas, feedback and provide practical advice. ITV and STV will give proper consideration to the views put forward from IMHAG and seek to reflect them in their policies and decision-making. 

Former leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, Ruth is a sitting MSP and has a background as a journalist.  She has previously spoken powerfully on mental health issues, including in her own life.

Ruth Davidson said:

"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. 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."

Carolyn McCall, CEO ITV, said:

“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 programmes and, of course, the millions of people who watch our programmes.”

Simon Pits, CEO STV, said:

“Mental wellness is a priority for us at STV and we are delighted to be partnering with ITV to ensure that mental wellbeing becomes part of everyone’s everyday lives and culture.  We’re committed to working closely with our colleagues at ITV,Ruth, the Advisory Board and charity partners to ensure best practice, and to help make a difference for our staff, production teams and audiences at home.”

Paul Farmer, CEO Mind, said:

“It’s so important for broadcasters to make sure that the mental health of everyone involved in making programmes, from production staff to contributors, is looked after. As an employer ITV is rightly looking at workplace wellbeing, while recent scrutiny of the mental health of people appearing on programmes has highlighted the need for support before, during and after programme-making. We are pleased to be involved in ITV’s advisory group and look forward to working alongside people with direct experience of the issues to support ITV in its work.”

Billy Watson, CEO SAMH, said:

“As well as supporting the Britain Get Talking campaign launch, SAMH is delighted to be a member of ITV’s new Mental Health Advisory Group and we welcome ITV and STV’s long term commitment to mental health and wellbeing. 

“Their Mental Wellness Campaign sets out a strong ambition with wide-ranging activities and audiences. The potential for significant positive impacts on mental wellbeing, demonstrated through people and teams, programmes and audience engagement, is huge.

“I will be pleased to support  Ruth as Chair of the Advisory Group and look forward to contributing both from a Scottish perspective and more extensively across the nation.”

Emma Thomas, CEO Young Minds, said:

“We are pleased to be part of ITV’s new Mental Health Advisory Group, ensuring that the views of young people with mental health problems are heard and reflected in decisions about programming. Television can have a really positive effect on young people’s mental health, but of course in some circumstances it can add to the pressures they face. It’s crucial that the mental health of participants, staff and viewers is properly considered, and we are pleased that ITV is building on its Britain Get Talking campaign by seeking guidance on how to ensure that its programmes have a positive impact on wellbeing.”

In addition to the group members announced today, more members will be appointed to bring further expertise in employee mental health, professional insight as well as viewer representation to the group.

Note To Editors:

Britain Get Talking, An ITV Mental Wellness Campaign To Help Families Get Closer, is aimed at encouraging ITV’s audience to engage in conversation and connect with each other, a recommended way to build and maintain mental wellness.

The initiative is supported by mental health charities Mind and Young Minds (and SAMH in Scotland) and marks the beginning of a five year strategic partnership with Mind.  ITV has set a goal of getting 10 million people to take action to improve their mental or physical health by 2023.  

The ITV Campaign for Mental Wellness has drawn inspiration from the Five Ways to Wellbeing devised by the News Economics Foundation guidance on looking after mental well-being, with an emphasis on promoting behaviour change through small, regular actions that positively support mental health.   

Under the theme “Connect”, one of the Five Ways to Wellbeing, the first year will set out to improve resilience in young people by encouraging positive steps in daily routine and family life to ensure conversation without distraction, which is recommended as an effective way of building mental health, is a regular feature in children’s lives.

About ITV:

ITV entertains millions of people and shapes culture. We are a leading media and entertainment company, with the largest commercial television network in the UK and a global production business, with over over 55 labels. Creativity, quality content and engaging audiences in the UK and around the world is at the core of everything we do.

We are More than TV. We reach over 40 million viewers every week with our programmes on ITV's family of channels, as well as the ITV Hub, which is available on 28 platforms and on over 90% of connected televisions sold in the UK. ITV delivers 99% of all commercial audiences in the UK over 5 million viewers and in 2019 is achieving  its highest share of viewing in 11 years, making it a powerful advertising platform, with the best rate of return when compared to other media. 

As advertisers use more targeted advertising as part of their marketing communications, ITV has concluded an agreement with a leading ad tech provider, Amobee, which will enable ITV to deliver programmatic addressable advertising around its  premium video inventory on the ITV Hub from the start of 2020. This, together with the investment in data and analytics, provides advertisers with mass, quality, trusted reach together with targeting ensuring ITV remains a powerful medium for helping companies grow.

ITV as part of its More than TV strategy, has created a scaled Direct to Consumer business in the UK, including recently surpassing 500,000 subscribers to its ad-free catch-up service, Hub+. It will launch BritBox, a streaming service with the BBC in the latter part of 2019, bringing people the best of British talent from the past, present and will commission original content.  

ITV Studios produces 8,900 hours of original programming each year, across 55 production labels. Our global footprint spans 12 countries including the UK, US, Australia, France, Germany, The Nordics, Italy and the Netherlands and our global distribution business sells our catalogue of 45,000+ hours to more than 3000 broadcasters and platforms. 

As the media landscape continues to change rapidly, ITV is focused on building upon its unique combination of creativity and commercial strength, transforming digitally to create a more diversified and structurally sound business.

About Mind:

We’re Mind, the mental health charity. We provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. We won't give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect.

Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case.

Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am - 6pm, Monday – Friday)

For urgent out of hours media support, call 07850 788 514

About Young Minds:

YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity fighting for young people’s mental health. For more information please visit

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @YoungMindsUK

For free advice and support for parents, call our helpline on 0808 802 5544

About SAMH:

Around since 1923, SAMH currently operates over 60 services in communities across Scotland providing mental health social care support, addictions and employment services, among others. These services together with national programme work in See Me, respectme, suicide prevention, physical activity and sport; inform SAMH’s policy and campaign work to influence positive social change.”