How the global marketing services community handles mental health among its talent

If the industry expects people to make innovative ideas, employers need to put staff's mental health first

It’s no secret, the vast majority of adult life is spent working. It is those experiences that can challenge you for better or worse and can factor into any person’s mental wellbeing.

Today is World Mental Health Day (Tuesday 10 October) and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), on a global scale, more than 300 million people suffer from depression and more than 260 million have anxiety disorders, many of whom live with both.

For many employers it is now second nature to consider their employees over all health, but in recent years tackling the stigma around mental health issues has become a higher focus. But how is it handled within the marketing services sector itself?

The golden thread weaving people together

Running deep through global marketing company, McCann Health, is a golden thread that brings together all that they do, how they work and how they approach business?

Global chief creative officer, Jeremy Perrot explains: “Health, happiness and humanity. Three powerful, and incredibly meaningful words, that work in harmony, both individually and collectively, with equal strength.

“It's not a selling tool nor is it a rule book. But simply a philosophy that is embraced and understood by our people and reflected in the positive effect it has on everyone’s attitude, approach and performance.”

The company's employee’s mental well-being is at the soul of it's strength and are committed to a “people first” approach, from ongoing professional development to employee benefits that help support work-life harmony.

Perrot continues: “We have an environment where people can be happy, and everyone is treated with humanity and understanding, which is what I believe constitutes a healthy work place, one where employees can perform well and enjoy what they do - both the challenges and above all, the successes.”

Taking care of creative minds

Within the advertising, marketing and creative industries, there are plenty of studies on how their work constitutes to the publics mental health but what about the flip side? Many people who work in these areas, like anyone else, may suffer from mental health issues.

At UK independent agency, Imagination, group chief executive officer, Patrick Reid, strongly holds to the fact that mental health is a large part of people’s lives. They expect their staff to be creative in the work that they so and if they are unhappy or distracted by other issues, it affects their ability.

He says: “To expect people to create transformative ideas, it is critical that they have mental wellbeing. We support wellbeing through a number of programmes and initiatives, large and small. We have an in-house gym, team sports, life drawing classes, a confidential helpline offering support etc. We have recently taken this further, through something called Live Well Month."

During this month, the company provides their employees with classes and clinics which offer advice on how to care for yourself both physically and mentally.

"Topics covered include how to manage your time more effectively to counter stress, techniques to build resilience, the importance of asking for help and guidance on how to support a colleague," explains Reid. "All subjects that are easy to assume people know how to handle when it is so often not the case.

“We regularly review the initiatives to see how we can improve. It is important that a business does this. People are on call more than ever and you need to be able to provide advice, guidance and a framework to make sure they don't get overwhelmed.”

Promoting a caring culture

According to the Singapore Mental Health Study 2010, more than one in 10 people will have a mental health condition in their lifetime. There appears to be an aversion to speak freely about issues affecting your mental health as many that live with these issues, do not want anyone knowing as it is a stigmatised subject.

Finance company, Running Stream’s chief executive officer, Dan Toh believes that high performance is often a result of positive stress, strong morale and personal well-being.

He expresses: “We believe in advocating a culture where taking care of our people is not just a top down concept but also a lateral one. Hence, we strongly encourage communication on all fronts, helping each other stay mentally strong and positive.

“Caring for each other is a culture that is practiced from all around in the company, creating a great place to work where people are appreciated, engaged, productive and thriving.”

How a company could not look after its employee’s mental wellbeing, if they expect to go the extra mile, is something that puzzles consultancy group, R3’s principal, Sufen Goh.

“Our brain controls everything,” she explains. “We want less sick days, more smiles and more thumbs up from clients. So, I need every R3-er to take care of their mental wellbeing and inculcate good habits like practicing mindfulness, exercising and eating well.

“R3 is a high-performance company with a heart. We have a strong family culture. A family is a universal concept. You demand more, but you also give and care a lot more too.

“Our values are defined simply with 3Cs. Care, collaboration and commitment. We care about people and openly collaborate internally and externally.”

The Drum believes that marketing can change the world. That is why, this World Mental Health Day, the annual Do It Day event will focus on mental health wellbeing, particularly in the workplace.

A hack session will start of Do It Day on Tuesday 10 October, bringing together various marketing, advertising, creatives and professionals, globally, to work on campaigns to destigmatise mental health.

This will be followed by a fringe week from Monday 13 November to Friday 17, where the winning campaigns will be executed, along with the Marketing Can Change The World Awards on Thursday 16 November.

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Danielle Gibson

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