Addressing the PR mental health epidemic

On Wednesday night I spoke at an event organised by the CIPR in support of Mental Health Awareness Week. Entitled “Are workplace mental health initiatives good PR?”, it was devised to explore the issues inherent in the communications industry and how to address them.

In the 2016 CIPR State of the Profession Survey, 30% of people said they were ‘unhappy’ or ‘extremely unhappy’ when indicating their levels of well-being in their jobs. It’s not, I believe, unreasonable to describe the mental health issue in the communications industry as an epidemic.

The reason I was invited to speak at the event is that I have suffered with depression for over ten years and because I’m passionate about trying to change things. But while I’m not shy about talking about my experiences through the relative anonymity of this blog or through my social networks, this was the first time I’d ever spoken to a group of people about it. So I’m not going lie; while I don’t normally get anxious about speaking in front of people, this was pretty nerve-wracking.

Alongside me on the panel were CIPR Diversity Officer Rajmeena Aujla and discrimination lawyer Bela Gor. We looked at the mental health issue from different perspectives – personal, professional, corporate and legal – and discussed what people working in the PR industry can do to address it. I was able to record the discussion, and you can listen to the full audio below.

It covers topics including but not limited to:

  • Understanding how people with depression, anxiety or stress feel
  • How to recognise those suffering from depression
  • The impact that poor treatment of people suffering with mental health issues can have
  • How the mental health issue affects people at all levels
  • Why mental health is such a rife but hidden issue
  • Why mental health issues are not a weakness
  • Why recognising and addressing issues within your team or company and not ignoring them is vital
  • As an employer, how to tackle performance reviews and the impact on your business

I’ve had to break the audio into two due to file sizes, but listen below. The first section is my own input:

 

The second section is that of Rajmeena and Bela:

 

Many thanks to Koray Camgoz and to the CIPR for inviting me to tell my story. If you’re running a similar event and would like my input, please do get in touch.

 

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