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PRCA South West Autumn 2018: Comments from the Chair, Kelly Pepworth CMPRCA

As we move into autumn and the mornings and nights get darker it can all seem a little like hard work. As much as PR people love their job for its fast paced and ever-changing nature, we would all admit that the passion, drive, and determination which make us successful can also, at times, take a lot out of us. This is especially true if we are also facing pressures outside of work.

Last year, the PRCA released #FutureProof, a report which featured, amongst many, two alarming findings. Firstly, that one in three people working in the PR industry have suffered mental ill health but more worryingly that mental illness is frequently ignored or dealt with as a line-management or performance issue.

With a healthy work-life balance a key factor to maintaining mental health, the 2018 PRCA Census highlighted the challenge of a long hours culture reporting that “PR and communications professionals continue to be overworked.” In the 2016 census 21% of respondents said they worked for 45 hours a week, the census this year saw this increase to 45%. Furthermore, 20% of professionals have reported that they work at least 55 hours a week.

The cost to individuals of poor mental health cannot be downplayed and not surprisingly the cost to industry is huge; mental health issues in the UK alone cost £70 billion per year.

The spectrum for mental illness and health is broad and statistics show that at some point in our lives, whether through work or personal circumstances, we are likely to find ourselves in a place where the support of colleagues and employers will be crucial.

Every one of us has a responsibility to listen, to be kind and to take time to try and understand. There should be no stigma surrounding mental health, especially in an industry where the wellbeing of our people should be one of our biggest concerns. After all, without healthy teams with a passion to succeed we have nothing. We’re just bricks and mortar.

If you are a small organisation it can be challenging to ensure you have the right preventative measures, resources, policies, and support system in place. As such, the PRCA offers a wealth of advice and guidance to members to help them make mental health and wellbeing a management priority. You can take a look at the resources here and book onto the newest PRCA training course of wellbeing - Wellbeing at Work: An Introduction to Stress and Mental Health – here.

As an employer, having the support of the leading UK industry body and access to these resources can be invaluable when it comes to supporting members of your team in need.