It’s the beginning of week four on my Public Relations course, and already my mental health issues (anxiety and depression) have made life difficult. I only have two days a week to attend lectures, yet somehow, I have already missed one day, walked out of lectures early twice and I’ve had several anxiety attacks in front of my whole class – great start.
So many symptoms come along with anxiety attacks that it’s often hard to express what you’re feeling to others. That’s why it’s considered an invisible illness – sometimes I can be feeling like I’m going to die, but my face won’t show anything unusual. My eyes may look a little emptier, but oftentimes, people don’t notice my world crashing down around me. And that’s okay (to some extent). I don’t expect everyone to notice, but I would like more people to be aware that these things do happen.
One in every four people in the UK will experience mental illness each year and one in six will suffer from common mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression. Therefore, it is important for organisations, as well as individuals, to understand the effects of mental illness. And equally important, is what those organisations do with this information.
In PR alone, mental health has become an increasingly discussed issue, and many organisations are putting practices into place to help those suffering.
The PRCA, for example, have several web pages dedicated entirely to mental health, including their Mental Health Toolkit that allows us to explore mental health statistics in PR and helps both employers and employees create and maintain good mental health practices.
The PRCA also paired up with #FuturePRoof in 2017 to release a report stating; “Mental illness in the public relations profession is frequently ignored, or managed as a line management or performance issue.”
It’s going to be a long, hard struggle to change the way that mental health has been dealt with in the past, but CIPR have confidence that;
“Public Relations can inspire mental health change.”
and industry leaders have been quoted as showing their support, including;
“Removing the stigma around the issue of mental health in the workplace will have the single biggest impact on positive outcomes.”
And I couldn’t agree more – remove the stigma, and people will be able to speak about how they feel more freely. The more freely we can discuss this, the more likely we are to find solutions that suit us and our organisations. By communicating my own issues, I have been able to change my class schedule, work with my lecturers to ensure that I am keeping up with the course and create this blog to share my experiences. Communication about mental health can only be a good thing in PR, as in life, so I hope that we continue moving in the right direction!
For more information, please watch this #FuturePRoof video: