Mental Health Agency Business Agency Culture

Workplace conflict is having a growing impact on mental health in adland


By Ellen Ormesher | Reporter

July 22, 2022 | 5 min read

Mental health-related calls to ad industry support organization Nabs have risen 128% year-on-year, with a noted rise in callers worried about workplace conflict.

Conflict at work

Conflict in the workplace now accounts for more than one in 10 calls to the Nabs support line / Image via Pexels

The latest data from the ad industry support organization revealed the scale of the mental health crisis among professionals working in advertising. Mental health-related calls to the support organization now account for more than a quarter of all contact and 66% of all emotional support calls.

Additionally, calls to Nabs’s Advice Line have increased by 20% this year as people reach out for urgent and impartial support. After emotional support, financial support requests remain in second place as a reason for contact, accounting for 14% of all calls and likely exacerbated by the current cost-of-living crisis in the UK.

However, a new third reason is disrupting Nabs’s usage trends. While redundancy usually makes the top three reasons for contact, it has been replaced by a category making it to third place: conflict in the workplace.

Conflict in the workplace now accounts for more than one in 10 calls. This issue includes bullying and harassment, and its notable appearance in Nabs’s stats demonstrates a challenging return to the office for hundreds of adlanders.

However, there is growing support in the industry to set a best practice standard for the use of NDAs in covering up cases of bullying, harassment and even assault.

Sue Todd, Nabs’s chief executive officer, said we all need to take note of the rising mental health challenges across the sector, “and particularly this suggestion that conflict in the workplace is rising.”

She cited the impact of Covid-19 and the political and social upheaval of the last several years as catalysts for more challenging workplace environments, “and we do have some headwinds that could create a perfect storm for individuals and organizations right now.

“Changing or mismatched expectations around ways of working, significant movement and recruitment of people into new roles and growing financial pressures at an organizational and personal level make for a heady combination.”

In another change, Nabs’s therapy is now taking the lead over its popular grants service. 11 people a month are now being referred to a specialist and tailored therapy by Nabs’s expert support advisors, where they can benefit from a minimum of seven free sessions to support them through a wide range of challenges.

The top three themes in Nabs’s coaching sessions so far this year are career direction, career crossroads and confidence. Backing up Nabs’s key stats, more and more people are raising mental health concerns in their coaching sessions. Emerging trends for Nabs and the industry to monitor are work-life balance, the tension between younger workers wanting to socialize more and the number of teams working from home, making it difficult for people to mix.

Uzma Afridi, head of careers at Nabs, said: “The past few years have been challenging and we’ve found that clients are using their coaching space to discuss everything they’ve been through, even though it’s not necessarily what they’ve initially come to us for. We’re here to help them reflect on their experiences and how they can move forwards with confidence.”

Mental Health Agency Business Agency Culture

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