My Two Cents On ‘That’ Mental Health Conversation

Do you ever feel as though you can’t let something go until you’ve gotten everything off your chest? That’s how I feel about a certain debacle that unfolded a week or so ago whilst I was on holiday. I’m not here to name names, but there was an accusation made via a now-infamous Glassdoor review that indicated that an individual wanted to end their life due to experiences at work.

I’m not here to talk about that specifically, as I think the organisation in question has faced more than enough negativity and slander online, plenty of which is unwarranted and even hypocritical. We can’t preach mental health one second, then hurl abuse at others in the next breath. I’ve no place or need to contribute towards that conversation. What I haven’t been able to stop thinking about, though, is the review itself and why it’s so important we take matters like this seriously.

If You Didn’t Experience It, Don’t Dismiss It

There was another tweet that went around suggesting that the post in question may have been made by a troll, written out of jealousy. This has since been removed and rectified, but it was not the only accusation of this nature – for every share and comment of the original Glassdoor-related post, there were those questioning its sincerity.

This is where I draw the line.

The very reason that some may not speak out about their mental health and their feelings, is because of this knee jerk reaction. Remember when Meghan Markle claimed she’d dealt with suicidal thoughts, and our good old British public was quick to call her a liar. All I could think was, it’s not Meghan who’ll see this, it’s your friends and family who’re already struggling with sharing their feelings, realising that they might well be invalidated in the same way.

The bottom line is unless you’re that person, you have absolutely no right to comment on their mental health and their thoughts. How could you?

So, though I think those who were quick to dismiss the Glassdoor reviews as jealous fabrications of the truth actually came to redact what they said in the end, the problem still persists: it’s too easy for us to pass off mental health issues as false, just because they might not relate to our own escapades.

And as someone who has been in a truly shitty work situation in the past, please don’t discount experiences, or claim them to be overdramatic. Our working life forms such a big percentage of our existence, if we’re not happy there, then it’s entirely plausible that negative interactions would have a monumental effect on your whole life and its outlook.

Why We Need To Start Paying More Attention

I’ve never seen the industry more fluid and erratic, people are switching jobs and switching them again. I shared a poll only recently regarding this, and was asked why I thought so many were moving between jobs at the moment.

To me, it’s partly because there’s a huge demand for our skills right now, and pretty much every agency I can think of off the top of my head is hiring. If people are being offered something better elsewhere, they’re going to take it.

Secondly, there have been more and more conversations recently about burnout, mental health, even menstruation and maternity leave at work. The most poignant for me was Sean Butcher’s talk on burnout at BrightonSEO. Inspired by that, I actually did something I never thought I’d do and agreed to a podcast interview, which was with Azeem Digital and came out recently. I discuss similar topics there.

These conversations are happening, and they’re happening more often. Employees are realising that certain experiences aren’t normal and are leaving for better situations because of it. New starters are identifying red flags early on and getting the hell out of toxic workspaces before they can have a big impact. Several years ago, I thought starting early, leaving late and juggling enormous amounts of pressure was the norm, I’m glad that these conversations are finally happening and hopefully educating particularly juniors in the industry that this isn’t right. Better late than never, after all.

So, with employment fluctuating so much at the moment, let’s do better in looking after the mental health of our teams, and most importantly: believing people when they have something to say.

Let’s also acknowledge this not just within our own companies, but in the wider industry too. We all have a part to play, after all.

The Moral Of The Story

I was on holiday when the whole Glassdoor conversation started, so I was trying to keep my industry updates to a minimum. However, this has still been bugging me out since I got back, and I couldn’t not say anything.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m not here to slander any companies, I don’t know enough about the situation and it’s not my place to say anything anyway.

But what I did want to say is that mental health at work matters, and we need to start treating it that way.

As I wasn’t there to say much at the time, I’d like to share some thoughts from fellow industry peers who worded things a lot better than I probably would have done anyway…

If anyone is struggling at their place at work, or even with life in general, my DMs are always open. You can also find help and support via these resources.

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