10% increase in PR pros reporting mental health conditions in the last year. Is the industry doing enough to support those in need?
In the CIPR State of the Profession 2018 report, it was found that there has been a 10% increase in PR professionals with a mental health condition in the last year. This staggering increase that highlights the need for more nurturing and training to provide individuals with the knowledge, skills and awareness they need to look out for themselves and their peers’ mental health.
There is no question that the PR industry is a demanding and busy one, something that most PR professionals will thrive on in order to deliver some of their most impressive work. However, for some, that constant pressure to perform and deliver can have detrimental effects on their mental health generating workplace anxiety, stress and often, depression.
With the rise of social media and its power within the branding world, it seems that a PR professional can never fully switch off, needing to be constantly aware of what the world is saying about their brands. This “always-on” culture can starve the brain of essential downtime to switch off and reset. Without this, stress can creep in and it can be increasingly difficult for maximum outputs in terms of creativity and productivity to be achieved. According to Rick Hanson, a California based neuropsychologist, “chronic stress degrades a long list of capabilities with regard to creativity and innovation. It’s harder to think outside of the box, nimbleness and dexterity take a hit, and the response to sudden change is more difficult to manage.” *
With the fine lines between PR, social media and digital, PR pros are having to become masters of multiple industries. This demand for multiple skill sets can cut into personal time as more and more people dedicate their ‘out of office’ hours on developing their skills throwing the off the balance between work and life. Thus, the “always-on” culture becomes a vicious cycle.
So, what can companies do? MHFA England offers mental health first aid courses which could be one step towards ensuring all employees have the ability to look after their own mental health, as well as recognise any signs of deteriorating mental health in their peers too.
An open-door policy
Open communication between senior managers, directors and their employees is crucial in creating a safe place for employees battling with mental health conditions. They will feel more comfortable voicing their concerns if managers lead by example. Employees will also know that there is always a safe space to talk.
Company-wide benefits that focus on well-being are a great way for employees to feel valued. Monthly massages, fruit boxes or free Pilates classes are just some of the great ways Champions looks after their employee’s wellbeing, and the little things really do add up! The monthly massages, in particular, are an amazing way to de-stress and relax.
This could be another way to help PR pros with their training and development. Using mentors from a higher level can be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety as junior members of a team will have a sounding board for their ideas and concerns. The mentor will have a wealth of experience that they can pass on in a shorter space of time, compared to training programmes, resulting in a highly productive employee who will feel secure knowing their training has already been tried and tested.