Lockdown has given many of us both pause and cause to reflect, and in my lower moments, I’ve been berating myself, most commonly for caring too much what other people think. This has often been prompted by unflattering views on the many video calls I’m having at the moment, both in my work life and my home life. Comparison is the thief of joy they say, and there’s definitely some truth in that for me.

But when you think that the practice of PR is all about reputation, and standing out from the competition, it’s not surprising that professional communicators like me tend to find comparison comes naturally. So is it any wonder that mental ill health is prevalent in our industry?

The cold hard stats

The results of a recent study published on World Mental Health Day found that 89 per cent of practitioners have struggled with their mental wellbeing, and 31 per cent find their job ‘very stressful’. One reason stated is the blurring of boundaries between work life and home life, and professional communicators often talk about the ‘always on culture’ that’s central to our industry because naturally, news never stops.

The fact that for most of us, our home is now our workplace, makes it even more important to make sure we have solid boundaries in place to protect our leisure and rest time. And never far from our thoughts is the potentially deadly virus that has turned our world upside down. Of course there’s been a spike in mental ill health.

That’s why I’ve been incredibly proud to work on a fantastic event to explore these issues more, in partnership with the PRCA North East and North West teams, as well as friend and colleague Lynsey Walton of Walton HR.

The panel will explore how we can re-adjust to working life post Covid-19, acknowledging that for some, the journey back may be protracted, and supporting employers to put wellbeing front of mind in our collective recovery from the ongoing outbreak.

Are you your whole self?

Mental Health First Aid England, through which I trained as a Mental Health First Aider, has a new campaign that calls on organisations to empower employees to adopt a mindset that allows them to bring their whole self to work. The idea is a little controversial, and many people may find solace in having a work persona they can shed once they’re home. But the advice that’s central to this campaign is simply one of authenticity, and that message isn’t lost on professional communicators!

I spend much of my working life advising clients to be authentic, transparent, real; to make the people behind the brand visible. It’s the organisations doing this well that tend to have the best reputations because people trust them. This is because people buy from people, and reputation is after all, built on trust. 

So, as much as it’s best to not be too hard on ourselves, what people think does really matter. Caring what people think can help make us both better, and it’s this drive that helps me make the difference for my clients.