Opinion

Things We Can Do To Encourage Mental Health Conversations In PR

I don’t know about you, but I feel like mental health in the industry gets spoken about quite often, but then as we move on, the conversations die down, and until something controversial surfaces again, that’s it for a while. I myself am guilty of contributing to this, I’ve written a number of blogs in the past that have been reactive to industry dramas such as identifying red flags at work and not dismissing mental health claims, but then I fail to continue the conversation. That needs to end.

Let’s Make 2022 The Year We Tackle The Issue

So, as I was helping to write a blog for work on our predictions for the PR industry in 2022, I made the point that we will (or at least should) start talking about mental health at work more, and specifically – avoiding burnout.

From my own experiences and from those I know, burnout begins, and sadly manifests within us, because we don’t talk about it, and perhaps we don’t talk about it because we feel that we can’t. I know I’ve certainly experienced that in the past. More than once I’ve felt that I can’t keep up or that I wasn’t good enough not because I was facing absurd workloads with no support, but because I believed it was a ‘me’ problem. The only way we stop juniors, or indeed seasoned industry pros, feeling like this, is it talk about it more. And naturally recognising those red flags at work too.

Here are steps we can all take to encourage those all conversations, and as I always say, if this blog post helps just one person, then I’ll consider it worth every second I’ve put into it.

4 Ways To Acknowledge Mental Health In PR

Talk About Our Own Experiences

When I was in a crappy situation a few years ago, I truly believed that I was the issue. This is thanks in no small part to the fact that I had absolutely nobody to speak to about it, and no frame of reference for what PR jobs should be like. All I knew was that everyone around me seemed to be loving their jobs and doing really really well. Twitter will certainly have you believe that quite often. But until we start talking about our bad experiences and calling out bad experiences, it’s hard to acknowledge when you’re stuck in a toxic situation yourself. That’s why, since finding unparalleled happiness at work now, I’ve not been shy of talking about my past and my bumpy start to the industry – you never know who needs to hear it. Absolutely anybody can be involved in this, whether it’s sharing the good stories or the bad stories, the more experiences we hear about, the more we recognise what’s normal, and what definitely isn’t.

Offer Support Where You Can

I’ve said many times that my DMs are absolutely a safe space for anybody who wants to talk about their experiences in PR, or of course in any other industry, and I can offer advice from my own experiences. This is one of the ways we can encourage more of these conversations, and work to build a better industry for everybody. Talking not only helps those who’ve found themself in poisonous workplaces, but it also helps us to ensure that the industry doesn’t make the same mistakes either. In recent years, I’ve seen so many companies improving their perks, from 4-day working weeks to mental health days and prolific maternity, paternity and even paw-ternity leave. This is in no doubt due to the increased talk and need for better workplaces, and I’m proud that the PR industry is pioneering the way forward in this new way of working.

Share Resources, Even If It’s Been Said Before

We all have different networks, so don’t shy away from sharing resources and information you find helpful just because you’ve seen it before. Even resharing content you’ve personally put out there in the past can be helpful – you never know who might need to hear it at the time. Encouraging mental health conversations in PR starts by identifying the issues and making talking about them a common practice, therefore I’ll always share anything I think people might need to hear. And on that note, here are some resources you may find useful if you’re in a difficult situation right now…

Implement Anonymous Talking Sessions

Something a little more practical for all my wonderful managers and business owners out there, one of the hardest things for an employee to do is talk about their mental health to a superior. Make it so they don’t have to. Anonymous feedback can be beneficial not only to those who need to get their feelings off their chest but also to those who have the power to enforce change. You might be putting too much pressure on your team without even realising it; so give them the opportunity to say what they feel they need to, minus the awkwardness. Whether you’re giving the feedback or receiving it, you’ll probably find there’s more honesty on both ends when you introduce anonymity and reduce animosity.

In a survey taken in 2020, 58% of over 2000 employees reported some form of stress at work, and almost 70% had experienced it in general. over 60% of people claimed they had experienced at least mild symptoms of anxiety and 58% said the same for depression. That is absolutely insane. No matter the trigger or cause, we can all help to bring those numbers down.

So, if you have any further advice on encouraging mental health conversations in PR, please do help out others by dropping them on my Twitter, I’ll share them where I can.

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