Four mental health questions PR professionals should consider

19 Oct 2021
Sai Roshini Daswani

The last 18 months have pushed many people to reconsider their lifestyles and life choices, something that had a strong impact on individuals’ mental health. A lot of us have been unable to see our families and close friends, resulting in tensions running high in both professional circles and home lives. The ups and downs in the global economy have encouraged PR leaders in the APAC region to realise how important holistic strategic guidance and a human-centric approach are to team management.

Recent research has shown that PR is one of the top 10 most stressful industries. As PR professionals and those working in integrated marketing, we are trained to be expert multi-taskers in everything from media relations to reputation strategy, event management to influencer and digital marketing. Overarching all of this, it is key to leverage the knack for storytelling and building important relationships that create an impact. The onset of the pandemic added international news monitoring, crisis aversion and management to the list, as well as helping clients navigate launches that align with governments’ changing restrictions in an unstable job market.

To navigate during turbulent times, we need to take extra care of our mental wellness, because to perform at our best and train those around us to do the same, we need to feel our best. I’d like to share a few key questions I’ve asked myself and the team over the last 10 months.

What motivates you?

Staying motivated can be challenging when life feels stagnant without travel and new experiences, although everything seems to fly by in a COVID-19 month. Understanding what helps you stay motivated is a great first step. Is it a certain kind of client work? Is it learning a new skill? Or is it just getting better at what you already do?

Fostering a work environment that can raise these issues is essential to the team’s growth.

Do my peers understand the importance of mental health?

Each culture has its own way of tackling mental health. It is vital to take note of this before addressing individuals so as to avoid misunderstandings, but it is equally important to share your views with your peers so that colleagues understand you better. It’s never too late to start the conversation.

A few years ago, at Sinclair, we worked on building awareness campaigns for MIND HK which provided opportunities for the team to have conversations around mental health. Putting this into a work situation and giving the team a common goal to work towards provided everyone new tools to discuss issues that matter and build on future conversations.

What are my boundaries at work?

Working in PR, especially at a PR agency, means that each person is constantly interacting with different personalities and cultures, inclusive of those created by colleagues, clients, media, partners and others. It can be a high-pressured situation because of not one, but all of the persons around us, and it often feels like the roof is coming down. Sometimes it’s a text on the weekend asking for a status update, an extremely tight deadline, or managing uncertainties, especially while many are working remotely. Regardless of the situation, knowing when to draw the line and say ‘no’ is a skill based on priorities you’ve identified to achieve the best personal outcome.

While managers need to set a standard that creates work-life balance within the office environment, guiding the team on how to converse with stakeholders in a professional manner is as critical. Building a safe place with a culture that colleagues enjoy fitting into is essential to team growth and employee retention.

What does self-care mean to me?

One size does not fit all. Self-care comes in many forms: emotional, practical, physical, social and spiritual. We’d probably need to try a lot of them and reflect before knowing what works best. Once we know what helps when it comes to trying to take care of your mental wellbeing, we can make that a priority.

We constantly hear about how great exercise is for us. For my part, the endorphins from skipping, lifting weights, and hiking have been a huge morale booster and helped me take up a healthier diet that has its own set of benefits.

It’s not too late to take your mental wellbeing into your own hands. Start by asking yourself a few questions, and share it with a friend.

This insights article was written by Sai Roshini Daswani for PRCA and first appeared here.

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