Wow, just look at the state of us…

Mary Paslawski

22 Sep 2022

I thought it was ok to not be ok now?

Covid impacted the world in so many horrible ways but from my perspective, one (very faint) silver line was that suddenly, people were opening up about their mental health at work. Countless articles were written about the effects of lockdowns, social distancing and spending more time at our desks simply for the want of something to do. It was suddenly ok to say that you weren’t ok – because most people weren’t ok.

Poor mental health went from being a taboo subject that plagued the few to the spotlight. And in a way, I’m grateful to the pandemic for that result – because I’m not sure we’d have the positive reception to what we’re doing now without it.

We’ve joined forces with Innovate Comms and CCgroup to create State of Us, a mental health network that will educate, support and be a force for change in the marketing, PR and communications industry.

Mental health problems can affect us all – one in four people suffer from them each year.  But in our industry, there are specific factors that can put an additional strain on people’s mental wellbeing:

  • Our work surrounds us everywhere we go, making it all but impossible to fully switch off
  • Our work is highly subjective, so our sense of status, job security and achievement can feel intrinsically linked to the opinions and preferences of others
  • Working for clients or internal stakeholders means we’re rarely in control of timings, deadlines, approval and expectations
  • Across the industry there has historically been a “work hard, play hard” culture that can also fuel mental health problems

In partnership with Coleman Parkes, we’ve surveyed 1000 PR, marketing and comms professionals and revealed some grave concerns about our industry’s ability to handle employee mental health – even with the major shifts the pandemic brought.

Just look at some of the findings:

An uncomfortably high number of industry professionals are suffering

  • Half of respondents reported having experienced severe stress, anxiety, or burnout in the last twelve months – up to three times on average

Those who do speak up about their struggles are being failed by their employers

  • Almost eight in ten respondents who reported their mental health challenge to their employer, went on to feel discriminated against by colleagues
  • And nearly nine in ten who reported their mental health challenge to their company were not happy with the changes that their employer put in place.

Confidence in the industry’s ability to handle mental health issues is low

  • Three quarters of respondents didn’t believe their company’s formal policies are sufficient to deal with mental health challenges
  • Over half of respondents take part in company mental health training annually, or even more frequently, BUT 42% still don’t feel confident enough to spot signs of mental health at work
  • 67% of those who have experienced mental health challenges said their employer is doing the bare minimum to help employees with mental health problems

Frankly – it’s just not good enough. That shouldn’t be the state of our industry.

State of Us is a new network for the industry, that aims to bring both agencies and in-house professionals together to educate, support and ultimately be a force for change, forging more supportive environments which enable people to thrive.

The network will offer:

  • Monthly events which offer a mix of training, education and sharing of lived experiences as well as joint problem-solving
  • A convening point for open dialogue, discussion and debate – and a trusted platform for sharing insights, news and advice to support positive mental health
  • A centralised database of mental health first aid trainers across the industry
  • A mental health mentoring programme
  • Longer term we have ambitions to develop a charter for the industry and potentially formal training

Interested? Come learn more at our launch event:

World Mental Health Day, Monday 10 October
Greencoat House, Francis Street, London, SW1P 1DH

Register here: