Last week, Mind head of workplace wellbeing Emma Mamo shared examples of what the legal industry is doing to tackle the issue. This includes encouraging law firms and their clients become a Mindful Employer and adhere to a Charter for Employers who are Positive about Mental Health.
PRWeek is in discussions with industry bodies, mental health experts and senior PR professionals to explore initiatives this industry can undertake to help employers create mindful working environments where employees' mental wellbeing is at the heart of work practices, staff management, client relationships, business outcomes and career progression.
The Romans associate director Paddy Hobbs is one of the senior PR professionals helping with this initiative and has urged agency leaders to start taking meaningful action.
"You can have all the nice policies in the world, but if the core of your agency culture is rotten, then your staff’s mental health is going to seriously suffer. No amount of flexible working or a free gym membership is going to make up for that," Hobbs told PRWeek.
"A genuine question I have is how many agencies are looking at mental health because they actually care about their staff and their wellbeing, and how many are doing it because it sounds nice in a creds meeting or looks impressive on an awards entry?"
The business case for change could not be clearer. This year, PRWeek and industry bodies have conducted studies into the mental health of the PR industry.
How does the PR industry shape up?
In a PRWeek-PRCA study of more than 540 PR professionals, an alarming 60 per cent said they had suffered or been diagnosed with mental ill health, with stress, anxiety and depression regular symptoms experienced across the profession.
Hypertension, panic attacks, anorexia, body dysmorphia, seasonal affective disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and self harm were also mentioned.
Several respondents linked their mental health issues to their workplace and almost half (49 per cent) felt more stressed than 12 months ago. Last week, Frank co-founder Graham Goodkind said that he believes unreasonable client and bullying is partly to blame.
Forty-four per cent had discussed their mental health with line managers, but many pointed to a culture where they felt uncomfortable raising the issue.
Worryingly, only 46 per cent of bosses and 26 per cent of employees view the industry as fairly accepting of people suffering mental health and only 24 per cent of bosses said their organisations had a formal policies on mental health. Of those that did, some employees regarded them as a 'box-ticking' exercise.
The evidence is compelling and solutions are in the works. PRWeek will reveal full details about an exciting new mental health initiative for agencies and in-house teams in an upcoming episode of the PRWeek podcast, The PR Show.
The industry's mental health
As Mental Health Awareness Week draws to a close, PRWeek has curated this useful reading list on mental health in PR, how agencies are tackling the issue, and useful tips employees can use today:
- Click here for the full results of the PRWeek–PRCA mental health survey, which found the industry is making some progress on the issue, although there is still much work to be done.
- There are two useful guides on how you can help colleagues. Jacqueline Hurst, our Mental Wealth columnist, offers 10 valuable lessons on looking after your mental health.
- Engine’s Emma Honeybone provides useful tips on how to help a colleague who is struggling with their mental health.
- The PHA Group's Rory Nicklin, who has battled serious mental health issues in his life, explains how education is key to tackling it.
- PRWeek spoke to agencies about steps they have taken to improve the mental health of employees. Several common approaches and priorities among employers include the importance of flexible working, line manager training and bosses leading from the front. Progessive agencies took a holistic view of the issue that focuses on staff happiness and general wellbeing, as well as specific mental-health initiatives, to address potential problems before they escalate.
- Case studies: PRWeek profiled five agencies that are making good progress in this space: FleishmanHillard Fishburn, Golin, Mischief, Manifest and Forster Communications.
- PRWeek also consulted with Mischief creative director and practising psychotherapist Greg Jones for his take on how the sector should approach the topic. Jones is another senior PR professional PRWeek is working with on initiatives to help the industry improve.
- There have been several outstanding campaigns that tackle mental health and suicide in the past year. PRWeek speaks to the creative minds behind these to find out how they shifted the conversation.
- PRWeek UK editor-in-chief Danny Rogers discusses the issue in recent column and PRCA boss Francis Ingham is also calling on the PR industry to take action.
Organisations you should know
- Mind – a mental health charity that provides support, resources and useful workplace advice.
- Time To Change – a social movement that wants to tackle mental health stigma. Check out their useful mental health organisations list and the Employer Pledge – has your business signed up?
- Head Office – a consultancy that helps PR and comms agencies assess the mental health of their workplaces, create wellness action plans and implementation strategies, mental health workshops and wellbeing coaching.
- SANE - a mental health charity that works to improve the quality of life for anyone affected by mental illness.
- The Mental Health Foundation – a charity that aims to improve mental health and address the sources of mental health problems.