The results from the recent PRWeek and PRCA survey reveal that there’s still a huge need for the industry to prioritise employee wellbeing and mental health. More than half the industry has suffered from mental ill health, and it’s troubling that so many cannot talk to their employers about these issues. And worse – so many more believe the industry is not accepting of people with mental ill health.
This is clearly unacceptable. It is high time the industry took this matter seriously. PR and comms can be exciting, fast-paced and rewarding, which is why the industry attracts so many talented people. However, it can also be very stressful, which is negatively affecting the mental health of our employees.
We can start by de-stigmatising mental ill-health and talking about it more openly. More importantly, we must encourage employers to have the policies in place to help staff who are suffering.
However, I am encouraged by the progress the industry has made. In 2017 we launched the PRCA Mental Health Toolkit, which has now been viewed nearly 10,000 times. This issue clearly resonates within our industry. In this toolkit, we featured employers who are leading the way in addressing the issue. I am constantly impressed by agencies which understand that making the workplace more diverse and inclusive is not only the right thing to do, but can have a positive effect on growth.
Mischief implemented a coaching platform based on a holistic approach to what motivates their employees, allowing staff to look at what’s important to them outside work.This features in all one-to-one talks with line managers.
Forster Communications also prioritises its employees’ mental health, by ensuring they can work flexibly, achieve personal goals and focus on their physical as well as mental health. It was named Britain’s Healthiest Workplace.
These agencies understand mental health can’t be treated as a singular issue; it’s part of a wider mission to make the industry more diverse and inclusive. That’s why we launched the PRCA Diversity and Inclusion Guidelines, in which mental health features prominently.
Beyond the confines of our industry, this is an issue for everyone at every level, and needs to be a national priority. Collaboration is key. The PRCA has worked with organisations such as Mental Health First Aid and keenly supported and promoted the work of organisations such as MIND and Business and Community in this field.
Which is why I was keen to sign an open letter calling for the government to change the law to protect mental health in the workplace and make Mental Health First Aid Mandatory in all workplaces. The letter was signed by 50 other business leaders across several industries. To date, the petition has been signed by more than 200,000 people.
There is clearly an appetite to talk about mental health and changes to the law to protect people with mental ill health. I am calling on the industry to take action: follow the example of exemplary businesses, use the resources available to you and, above all, make your workplace a space where employees can openly talk about these issues.
Francis Ingham is PRCA director-general and ICCO executive director