MAYK's Mental Health Policy

Today is World Mental Health Day, and so we're publishing our new Mental Health Policy, developed through MAYK’s participation in Arts Council England’s Agent for Change programme.

We worked with our ‘agent’, Alice Holland on a survey that was disseminated amongst artists and independent producers in Spring 2017. The survey asked a series of questions about mental health, flexible working and how organisations like MAYK could best work with people in this area.

We all encounter mental health issues at some point in our lives, whether our own experience or those close to us.

Working in the arts is emotional; we seek out, encourage, describe and portray all the complicated facets of the human psyche, but in every day we find a reluctance to address mental health, perceived vulnerability or weakness. The research we conducted showed overwhelming tendency for arts professionals to hide mental health conditions for fear they won’t be employed or wanted.

We want to change this by making MAYK a place where talking about mental health is No Big Deal, through policy changes to ensure that the artists, freelancers and staff we work with are respected, understood and provided for, and through encouraging a work environment with all of our partners that reflects an understanding and compassionate attitude to mental health issues. 

This will be ongoing work, and we hope to lead conversations towards tangible, positive change.

This policy is a statement of attitude. It’s a living document that we will update, change and adapt in response to our experience and the experiences of the artists and producers we work with.


  1. We recognise the distinction between capability and capacity
  2. We will always ask artists, freelancers and staff about what their specific access needs are at the point of contract. This could include questions such as ‘what do you need to do your best work?’
  3. We will offer flexible working hours for our core team and freelancers. We will continue to have standard working hours (usually 10am–6pm), but are happy to work around those times if people require a different working pattern. We also acknowledge that our work often involves being around at evenings and weekends and at these times we will work with you to adjust your working schedule accordingly.
  4. As part of our regular staff training, we will offer training to staff in mental health (for example through the ‘Mental Health First Aid Training’ initiative)
  5. We will be flexible with artists, freelancers and our staff team about doctors/healthcare appointments
  6. We will offer time off in lieu
  7. We will use simple, clear language rather than ‘contract speak’, wherever possible in our communication with artists and freelancers
  8. MAYK will have a dedicated ‘pastoral’ contact on our staff team. This person will be someone you can speak to if you have particular needs or questions
  9. We will always be clear about our expectations of you around schedules and working conditions, and we will do our very best not to change our minds about arrangements at the last minute
  10. We will issue contracts early and be clear about payment terms
  11. We will encourage our partner venues and organisations to adopt this policy too by making it available to them at the point of contract, especially when we are asking you to work with them too. If we are not able to do this, we will be clear with you about how this might affect your work
  12. We will ensure we have scheduled appraisals, debriefs and evaluation sessions during and after projects to ensure you feel you have been listened to and understood

We'd love to hear what you think. Please do comment below, or drop us an email at matthewandkate@mayk.org.uk


Photo: Secret Slowness of Movement by Laura Dannequin