The overarching issue with mental health in the industry is a lack of education

On reflection, I probably had mental health issues during my childhood, but the first time I really became aware I was mentally ill was when I was 17.

Education, education, education: That's the way to tackle mental health in the industry, argues Rory Nicklin
Education, education, education: That's the way to tackle mental health in the industry, argues Rory Nicklin

Sixth Form and university were spent battling depression and things really escalated when I turned 21.
There was a lot going on at that time and I just became completely and utterly overwhelmed.

Time for change: Tackling PR's mental health problem

Everything festered and I got to a point where I just didn’t want to live anymore. On a daily basis, I considered taking my own life and I was almost subconsciously planning it all out.

It wasn’t until I reached out for help that I began to learn how to deal with my mental state.

Despite still suffering from anxiety – something I very recently finished therapy for – I consider myself mentally fitter than I have been for a long time.

But that comes with daily work in order to maintain a healthy mental state.

Regular self check-ins, exercise, a support network both at home and at work, and skills I have learnt through therapy make up my toolbox to maintain a balance.

My experiences over the last decade however have left me with just that – experience.

Experience of dealing with mental illness and from that an understanding of what I believe society, businesses and the PR industry need to combat one of the biggest issues we currently face.

The mental health problem can’t be solved by one thing and one thing only.

If I was to pinpoint the most important thing this industry needs it would be what every other industry needs – education.

Rory Nicklin, senior account executive at The PHA Group

But, if I was to pinpoint the most important thing this industry needs, it would be what every other industry needs – education.

When I had depression at the age of 17 it was only when I looked up the symptoms of depression that I realised what was happening. That should not have been the case.

School should have equipped me for understanding what these signs and symptoms were.

As an industry we need to move the conversation forward.

There has been an absolutely outstanding effort to raise awareness of mental health and now we know it’s such a huge problem we need to tackle it head on. The best way to do that is to educate ourselves on how to manage it.

Courses on mental health should be paramount at senior level to help educate those that have a responsibility for numerous individuals.

In the long run everyone will prosper from this, I assure you.

I have very recently experienced first-hand the positive impact an open-minded and supportive approach can have on my mental health.

I’m driven more than ever and smashing targets like it’s going out of fashion and I genuinely believe that’s because of the warmth and understanding that was shown when I needed it.

With education will come understanding and with understanding will come acceptance and the ability to better converse about mental health.

And, when the time comes that you are tasked with dealing with this in the workplace, you will be better equipped to talk about it and accept how those you have employed are feeling.

Education isn’t only something needed at a senior level.

Everyone in this industry needs educating on how to look after themselves.

PR is a fast-paced and stressful business. There isn’t a PR who hasn’t lost sleep over work or felt worried about a deadline.

It’s taken me nine years to get to a point where I’m well-equipped with various tools to combat my mental health.

I confess, some people seem more capable of managing their mentality better than others but regardless, invest money on training people to look after themselves properly.

Help them deal with stress, provide them with coping mechanisms and continue to create environments that are mentally healthy.

Rory Nicklin is a senior account executive in the Sport and Fitness department at The PHA Group

Thumbnail image ©GettyImages

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