Why we need to take better care of our mental health

By Lucy Wright, Media Officer at Greater Anglia

This week the CIPR has launched resources to help PRs with their mental health. A new skills guide and a webinar, developed with the mental health charity Mind, has been designed to help employers build a working environment that supports positive mental health and advises practitioners on how to take care of their mental wellbeing. The guide, which is available free of charge on the CIPR website, includes guidance for organisations, managers and individuals – including independent practitioners and a link to resources which can help anyone in need. I believe this is something which is very much needed in our industry.

Earlier this year at the CIPR East Anglia conference, Leanne Ehren held a session about wellbeing and creativity. Many comms professionals deal with trauma in their working life or suffer from stress and burnout. During the session Leanne told us that 60% of people in our profession has been diagnosed with a mental illness – and this number is on the rise. The group listed ways in which work had an adverse effect on their wellbeing from working long hours, being on call, long commutes, workload and loneliness. We then suggested ways to tackle these – those who felt lonely could collaborate with other freelancers, enforced breaks, downtime with the team and flexible working. There is an expectation that comms people will always be bright and happy – we are often seen as ‘fixers’ – but sometimes this preconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Over the past few weeks with the summer well underway, there has been a lot of discussion about checking emails while on annual leave, with many admitting to checking their emails daily when they are on holiday. If you really must keep in touch with the office, maybe have a fixed time every day, that way you can manage expectations, fully devote a small pocked of time to work and then fully enjoy the rest of the day. I would encourage everyone to look at the guide, put aside some time to complete the webinar and think how you can better care for your mental health. It’s so important to put yourself first – go for walks, eat lunch away from your desk, turn your phone off at a reasonable hour, and fully enjoy time spent away from the office because ultimately, we are the ones who will pay the price if we don’t. How do you care for your mental health? What strategies help you at work?