The research also raised doubts over the industry’s ability to support its workforce and suggested it needs to “re-energise the conversation and affect real change” around mental health.
The survey revealed that half of respondents reported having experienced "severe" stress, anxiety or burnout in the past 12 months – up to three times on average.
It added that almost eight in 10 respondents who reported their mental health issues to their employer went on to “feel discriminated against by colleagues”, while nearly nine in 10 who reported their mental health challenge to their company were “not happy with the changes” their employer put in place.
And it said more than half of respondents take part in company mental health training annually, but 42 per cent still don’t feel confident enough to spot signs of mental ill-health at work. And 67 per cent of those who have experienced mental health challenges said their employer is doing the “bare minimum” to help employees with mental health problems.
The survey of 1,000 PR, marketing and comms professionals, conducted by Coleman Parkes, was commissioned by Innovate Comms, Harvard and CCgroup to explore people’s experiences of mental health in the workplace. The agencies have now created a mental health network, called State of Us, which will be launched at an event on Monday 10 October, to coincide with World Mental Health Day.
“Despite the fact that it feels like the industry has turned a corner in recent years, it’s clear that the stigma surrounding mental health still exists”, said Vicki DeBlasi, founder of Innovate Comms. “Not only can the workplace exacerbate mental health challenges, employers have a duty of care over their employees. While creating a safe space for conversations is an important starting point, the industry must do better – hence us coming together to launch this new community, which we’ve called State of Us.”
“Not only is centring mental health in the workplace the right thing to do, morally, but it’s the right thing to do from a business perspective,” added Katie de Cozar, head of talent at CCgroup. “Against the backdrop of the talent crisis, employee wellbeing is critical and we should be on a collective mission to put mental health on a level playing field with physical health.”
Mary Paslawski, client services director, marketing, at Harvard, said the PR industry needed to “revisit good intentions around mental health, but also re-evaluate how they’re applied in a real-life environment. It’s a challenge for businesses – and by launching State of Us, we’ll bring together agencies and in-house professionals to educate, support and ultimately be a force for change. By helping the industry to forge more supportive environments, it will better enable people to thrive.”