If you’re a communicator or marketer, you have most likely written about mental health and its importance. You may have shared mental health resources, run internal or external surveys to assess the mental health of your stakeholders, run self-care campaigns, or have written articles on “How to take care of your mental health during lockdown”. The constant worry to ensure that mental health is communicated properly can be exhausting, and the irony is not lost on me that those who are writing about how vital mental health is may also be struggling with their own.
We don’t need reminding of how emotionally challenging this year has been. For everyone, in employment or not, many changes had to be made to ensure the safety and health of ourselves and those around us. Lockdown brought the loss of the work life/home life barrier. With this, conversations of burnout and mental health picked up pace. Advice on how to manage your mental health in the form of self-care became positively abundant.
The image of self-care is often conflated with bubble baths, face masks and lavender scented candles. And while this angle of self-care does bring its benefits, there’s no denying it comes from a point of consumerism. It’s important to realise that self-care can come in the form of small, but impactful, everyday activities.
Improving your mental health in the form of self-care can be saying no to a project, logging off at the same time every evening, or turning off email notifications on your phone (or better yet, removing work emails off your phone altogether). It can come in the form of going for a daily walk and ensuring that you are sleeping well every night.
Self-care can also come in the form of speaking to your manager or team about your struggles and working to take on actionable changes at work to improve your mental health. I know that for myself, speaking about mental health can be uncomfortable. I’m not one to open up but knowing that I have a great support system at work to talk about when I am struggling has certainly helped.
We are seeing more people within communications and marketing speak up about their mental health. PRCA’s report, Continuing the Conversation: Mental Wellbeing in Public Relations 2020, found 59% of PR professionals are letting someone at work know they are struggling with mental health, compared to 43% in 2019.
For the communications and marketing industry, 2020 has left much to reflect on. Long workdays and high demands have led to many in the profession experiencing the feeling of burnout. Suddenly, there were a whole new set of challenges: internal communications teams working out how to keep engagement high amongst remote workers; marketing teams delaying product launches and urgently rethinking their marketing strategies; PR and corporate communications teams working round the clock to respond to increasingly difficult issues.
It wasn’t any easier for those on furlough or those who have lost their jobs. In March, recruitment processes dropped off overnight. We know that looking for a job is a full-time job itself. Much like with work, job hunters need to schedule in the breaks and give themselves time off for this too. At VMA GROUP, we have spoken to hundreds of communications, digital and marketing professionals; providing blogs, webinars, and consultations to support those in their job search whilst recruitment levels were low. Many of those we spoke to have already or are feeling exhausted and demotivated from searching. For those still looking for their next opportunity, we can confidently say that communications and marketing recruitment is picking up but there is still a long way to go before we see a return to normal levels. So maintaining motivation and a feeling of self-worth are still so important for the road ahead.
Communicators and marketers across all sectors must take a moment to reflect and to pat themselves on the back. The work undertaken so far this year has not been easy. For those who were furloughed or have lost their jobs, take a moment to reward yourself on making it through the year so far. You may not feel like this needs rewarding, but everyone is deserving of a little celebration now and again.
For communications and marketing professionals, the next few months are crucial. Planning for 2021 and homeworking throughout the winter months will bring its own challenges. Communicators and marketers, it’s time to put the advice you have written about mental health into action. Take a break when necessary. Speak to those closest to you. And remember that your mental health matters too.
Mental health resources:
VMA GROUP is a leading international interim and permanent communications, digital and marketing recruitment and executive search specialist. Specialist practices cover corporate communications, internal communications, change communications, PR, media relations, CSR, public affairs, marketing, digital and agency services.
We have a reputation for providing leading consultancy services and advice supported by in-depth knowledge of the professions we recruit for. Our thought leadership and benchmarking studies have become go-to resources for the communications and marketing industry supporting planning and decision-making.
VMA GROUP has offices in London, Manchester, Amsterdam, and Brussels but we work with organisations and individuals on a global basis.