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How to look after your team’s mental health

Having worked in the industry for over two decades I’ve seen the media landscape change dramatically, but the pressures, the juggling and the need to meet expectations on all sides, has not.

I know only too well the adrenalin-filled roller-coaster ride this industry can take us on, and I also know many of us find it hard to look after ourselves – mentally and physically.

The sad thing is, it appears not much has changed in terms of the support available – recent CIPR data revealed 82% of creatives had felt a mental health impact as a result of the pandemic, but less than a quarter had accessed mental health support in the last six months.

It’s not just the figures that paint this sorry picture; I know from my coaching and mentoring clients, as well as my online community that things aren’t great and it is often mental health that suffers.

Now, more than ever, those in PR leadership positions need to make a commitment to changing this and here’s how:

Have an open door policy
Whether you’re working virtually or back in the office, it’s vital that people in your organisation feel they can knock on your door or set up a Zoom call to talk about what’s going on for them. Taking this step is a big deal, so listen without judgement if a member of your team steps up to say they are struggling, invite them to talk freely and take the situation seriously.

Take duty of care seriously
You have a ‘duty of care’ to support their health, safety and wellbeing but shame and stigma could prevent many employees from seeking help, so normalise the use of this language in your business and have a policy that lets people know they won’t be demonised for asking for help. Look into having a mental health ‘champion’ who leads on changing attitudes to mental health and consider letting them take a mental health first aid training course.

Check in with your staff
Whilst there are the plus sides of no commute and not having to share the office microwave, working from home can be isolating and isn’t easy for everyone. Have regular check-ins virtually with the people you work with and ensure these are scheduled in advance so everyone is in the loop and can have their voices heard.

Communicate more than you think you need to
I always say, if you think you’ve said it enough, say it some more! As a priority, congratulate your team for great ideas, successes and creative thinking. Keep your team informed about any company changes or updates, clarify work hours and remove potential stress triggers by setting expectations about workloads, confirming priorities and make it known that there is flexibility if it is needed.

Encourage a healthy work-life balance
I know this is cliché, but getting people to take regular breaks and stop for lunch can be key to feeling good. A walk in the park, some stretches or even running up and down the stairs a few times can release those feel good endorphins and help dial up the good vibes.

People might want to go back to how things were, but I hope that instead we’ll use this as an opportunity to create mentally healthy workplaces for the future.

Written by Natalie Trice, career and confidence coach for PR and media professionals.

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