PRCA & Opinium Research: COVID-19 has caused ‘significant stress’ for PR practitioners

More than a quarter (26%) of PR professionals find their job extremely stressful compared to 18% of the general public, according to a new report published today by the PRCA and Opinium.

Unmanageable workloads (55%), the impact of coronavirus (44%) and poor work-life balance (43%) were cited by PR professionals as the most common causes of stress. 
The report – Continuing the Conversation: Mental Wellbeing in Public Relations – has been published ahead of World Mental Health day and reflects the views of more than 400 PR professionals. 
This is the second year the PRCA and Opinium have collaborated on this research, with this year’s report exploring the impact of the global health crisis on the mental health of PR professionals.  The research incorporates The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, which is recognised as a best practice mechanism for gathering data on mental health and wellbeing.  
Despite concerns around levels of stress, the study uncovers evidence of significant progress in addressing the taboo of mental health in the workplace. Last year, 40% of PR professionals who took time off for their mental health were honest with their employer about their reasons for taking leave. This year’s study showed the figure had grown to 72%, indicating PR practitioners feel more confident talking about mental health at work. In more positive news, 64% say their current workplace takes the health and wellbeing of their employees seriously and 59% of those in PR who struggled with their mental health told their employer. 
The report reveals mixed opinions on working from home; 40% of practitioners said it improved their mental health, while 42% said it did not. Those who struggle with working from home cite the challenge of switching off, loneliness, missing socialising with colleagues, and the stresses of looking after small children. In addition, 58% struggle to draw boundaries between work and rest and more than half (51%) are working longer hours now. Despite the challenges of working from home, 96% want to continue working from home in some capacity.
Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA said: 
“It has never been more important for our industry to take action on mental health. The progress made in recent years has been welcome: more employers recognise the importance of mental wellbeing by offering their staff support; they actively encourage conversations about mental health in the workplace. And employees have responded by being far more candid than was the case even five years ago. 
“Covid has made it more important than ever that we do more than ever. From the conversations I have every day, there is enormous pressure on pretty much everybody right now. Which is why publications like this are so important our industry. And why the PRCA will continue to shine a spotlight on this issue in the years ahead.”
James Endersby, CEO, Opinium said:  
“It has been a challenging year for people working in PR. The stress of Covid-19 and the impact on the industry has been vast and has negatively impacted mental wellbeing scores for the sector. But encouragingly, thanks to agency leaders, there has also been some progress made since we launched our first workplace mental wellbeing report with the PRCA in 2019. Employers are clearly focusing their energies on mental health more, and PR professionals are noticing this.” 
The report will be launched at an event tonight in collaboration with Edelman and Opinium during which the research team from Opinium will present the findings of the research. This will be followed by a panel discussion featuring expert speakers. To register for the event, please click here

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