PR professionals more likely to suffer from poor mental health compared to other UK workers

PR practitioners are significantly more likely to suffer from poor mental health compared to other UK workers, according to new research carried out by the PRCA and CIPR.
The research – conducted by Opinium – found nine in ten (90%) PR professionals have struggled with their mental wellbeing to an extent over the past 12 months, compared to 65% of UK workers.
PR professionals are also less likely to take time off from work for mental wellbeing reasons than other UK workers; one in four PR practitioners took leave for mental health, compared to one in three UK workers.
Younger professionals aged 25-34 were noticeably more likely to have taken time off due to their mental wellbeing (32%) compared with those aged 35-49 (22%). Workload was cited as the main barrier to taking time off by more than half of respondents.
Encouragingly, PR professionals increasingly feel their workplace takes the mental health of their employees seriously. 60% of those experiencing mental health issues have told someone at work.
Key findings from the survey reveal:

– 60% of those experiencing mental health issues have told someone at work about it
– 54% of those who didn’t take time off work for their mental health cited the heavy workload as the top reason for not doing so
– 61% of those taking time off due to mental health problems have felt guilty for doing so
– 60% felt considerable improvements in their mental wellbeing after having taken time off
– 74% of those speaking up at work about their mental health issue found their workplace to be understanding and supportive
– 67% said an overwhelming workload was a key source of workplace stress
– 95% of PR professionals believe their workplace has a role to play in looking after the mental wellbeing of employees  

The research forms part of the PRCA and CIPR’s collaborative efforts to inspire positive action on mental health across the industry. The industry bodies launched a pan-industry ‘Heard Mentality’ campaign earlier this year to urge leaders to heed the concerns of colleagues. More than 250 teams across from across the industry took part in a collective Heard Mentality conversation last month.

Read PRCA Director General Francis Ingham’s personal account of his own battle with mental health on the PRCA blog.
PRCA Director General Francis Ingham MPRCA said:
“This report delivers data on where we are, and recommendations on what we should do. Some of its findings -such as nine out of ten practitioners have suffered mental ill health over the past year- are shocking. Others -such as three out of four have found their workplace to be supportive- are very welcome.
“The four recommendations are simple, sensible, and sound. You shouldn’t feel guilty because you’re feeling unwell. You definitely should talk about the issue. We need to take better care of ourselves, and for many, that’s about workload. And where hybrid working works well, keep on with it.
“Every crisis is a catalyst for change, whether for the better or for the worse. If we embrace the recommendations made here, then that change can definitely be for the better.”
CIPR CEO Alastair McCapra said:
“This research does more than shine a light on a well-known problem. It is a call to action; the power to improve the mental health of our employees and colleagues is in our hands and action is expected. If our model of work isn’t working for the majority, how do we fix it? Normalise conversations around mental health. Allow people time off for stress and mental health concerns. And actively manage your team’s workload and your stakeholder’s expectations.
“The pressures of working in public relations are very real and it’s right that we should be concerned but we should also be hopeful. There has been a noticeable shift towards more open and supportive cultures, with more than half of those who experienced mental health concerns talking about them to someone else at work. That must continue and the industry must embrace the new world of hybrid working as an opportunity to deliver a better balance between work and life. Another way is not just possible, it’s essential.” 

Opinium CEO James Endersby said:  

“As we reach our third year of conducting our mental health audit amongst the PR industry, we have started to see organisational change not only within how mental health is communicated, and supported throughout the industry but how mental wellbeing as a whole is approached.
“There was a lot for the industry to learn during the pandemic, how to adapt to a completely upside-down world, remote working, fear and stress at all-time highs. The industry has made great progress since the knock of Covid.
“We hope this report continues to provide actionable insights and recommendations for the industry to continue to support colleagues and improve workplace wellbeing.”

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