Tackling mental wellness in the PR workplace

Sahiba Sethi, Counseling Psychologist

I have been a part of the PR world for some time and what I witnessed in my short stint there had me admiring the fortitude and resilience of the professionals in the business. At the same time, mental wellbeing seemed like the absolute non-priority for the industry as long as the work got done. Some wore mental fatigue and the resulting disruption of normal lives as a honor badge (which never made any sense to me). After a very very short stint, I continued my studies in psychology and graduated to become a Counseling Psychologist. I have been practicing for over a decade now, counselling various age groups and occasionally counseled and advised with Nucleus PR as well on best practices. I was happy to see that they were giving importance to mental wellbeing. When the pandemic broke out and lockdown ensured in March none of us knew how long it was going to last. In a couple of weeks, the effects of the lockdown and resulting stress started to become very evident. Nucleus PR connected with me again asking to be on regular call with all their team members if need be. Based on my experience with them and my own , I would like to recommend basic policies that all PR firms can inculcate in their HR policies and overall culture to create a space that is more conducive towards mental health.

I am thankful to Nucleus PR for inviting me to write this piece and share my knowledge not just with them but the industry at large. So here goes…

  1. Mental Health Awareness: Actively speak about mental wellness and the importance of it with your team on a regular basis. Make a focused effort to let them know how much you prioritize the same. Lead with it in your induction sessions. I have often seen PR professionals being very surprised about prioritizing this. If they have spent a few years in the industry they would have become accustomed to being mentally badgered by media, seniors and clients. Talk to them about the importance your company places on mental wellness. Give them the reassurance that it matters to you. Organize sessions with counselors and other relevant wellness coaches who can emphasize the importance of the same in various ways. Every person is unique and they have different ways of learning. So, create a mix of different kinds of workshops eg., meditation camps, creative or art sessions, dance or drama workshops or team bonding exercises that will help them understand mental health and the importance of it.   
  2. Mindfulness: Be mindful of mental wellness in your interactions with team, clients, and media. Each one is essential to the PR business and each one is an integral part of building the firm. Mental wellness of each element matters in creating an overall healthy eco system. When you are mindful about it, it helps you catch and break patterns that slipped through and was glorified earlier. However, keep in mind that everyone in your team might not like talking about mental wellness. There is a deeply ingrained bias against mental illness that prevents them from recognizing and addressing issues related to it. 
  3. Wellness Buddies: This is one of the simplest things to inculcate. Every team has highly motivated individuals. Pair up each member of your team with a high motivator. They will encourage and be a sounding board for their team members helping them along on their wellness journey. This not only increases team wellness but also team bonding.
  4. Walk The Talk: The leadership team is key to the successful implementation of a wellness plan. If the leadership team does not believe in it and inculcate it, then the program is just a pretty board on the wall. You have to truly believe in its benefits to be able to implement it. Creating a safe space for your team to blossom and work together as you have their back, is a priceless creation. Though keep in mind, this might require you to walk away from team members, clients and media friends who are detrimental for your firm’s mental wellness.       
  5. On Board Counselor: Educate your team and buddies to recognise signs on when professional help is required. There is nothing wrong in it. When your client goes through a crisis, you would probably proudly call a consultant on board. So, why not for mental wellness? It is a crisis. And a very deep one that must be addressed. The wrong advice at a delicate moment or an attempt to force someone to recognise a problem can have far reaching repercussions. A good way to handle this is to normalize talk on mental wellness and normalize regular calls / meet ups with an on-call counselor.    

About Nucleus PR

The 12-year old firm has clients across verticals. With an already established presence in 4 major metros, they have also successfully added a strong affiliate network across 88 towns across the country via a team of trusted professional experts. With its inclusion in the exclusive and prestigious worldwide collaborative network of PR firms – PRBI Boutiques International, it now adds brilliant minds from 37 agencies across 13 countries to their resource pool. As the first members from the Asian sub-continent, they represent the entire region in the prestigious international PR network. Their current portfolio includes entertainment, lifestyle, media, hospitality and corporate clients across MNCs, SMEs, and Startups. Connect with us to know more about how we can help your brand create a powerful story.

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