By Stuart Baird, director, BakerBaird Communications,
Statistically up to 14,250* members of the PR profession will suffer from a mental health issue over the coming year.
That’s 1 in 4 of us. Yet the profession has for many years seen self-resilience as written into the job description, regardless of the pressures a person will be put under.
Those pressures can include hitting send on a press notice which goes to the world’s media and all their audiences. In the NHS it can be sitting in a CEO’s office talking about the legal and media fallout following a series of babies deaths (see Shopshire).
It can be being at the end of spite-filled messages sent by anonymous keyboard warriors over social.
And last week it will have be someone sitting with a Secretary of State explaining why a Towns competition was launched in a City and the SoS spent the days media bids explaining the faux-pas not the policy.
When I worked as a head of communications for an NHS mental health unit in Leicestershire, I regularly chatted with service users. One of them said to me “If I stumbled into your office with a broken leg, would you tell me to ‘just get on with it’?”
I am no expert what struck me about the analogy was this:
1: Don’t ignore mental health and pretend nothing is happening – it won’t get better, it can only get worse.
2: Just like you wouldn’t attempt to fix a broken leg, don’t think you’re expected to ‘fix’ someone’s mental health issues – seek professional advice.
3: Prevention is always better than cure – if you and your company have the right attitude, policies and activities in place to support wellbeing the less likely you are to meet with serious problems. There are superb charities and resources out there to help with that.
Employers and professional bodies acknowledge they need to do more to support their most precious resource – their people. That’s why in the Midlands, we’re providing a mental health awareness workshop, hosted by the University of Derby. It’s only a small thing in what needs to be an ongoing piece of work, but to quote a Chinese proverb – the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
To find out more about the workshop click here https://bit.ly/36CQ2f2
For more resources from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations click here
*One in four of us will experience a mental health problem (Mind); there were 57,000 people employed in the PR industry in the UK in 2019 (Statista),