Last year at the height of the pandemic, I was having a conversation with two of my colleagues about burnout and mental well-being in the communication profession. The first said, “Hard work is valued in our profession and worn like a medal.” The second said, “Yes, but we need to remember how to be human.”
Around the same time, an IABC board colleague sent me an email at 4:45 a.m. one Tuesday. When I asked him why he was up at that hour sending emails, he told me he was working on a big client project, and his agency was working around the clock to get it done.
I had many similar conversations during the course of 2020 and into 2021, and I remember thinking to myself, “We can’t keep doing this, something has to give.” Communication teams across the globe have kept teams connected and held organizations together, but this has come at a cost to the exhausted professionals whose mental health is suffering.
I have seen too many of my communication and public relations friends and colleagues suffer with their mental well-being and, for this reason, I wanted to explore mental well-being in the communication profession.
“Burnt out,” “always on,” “feeling isolated,” “running on empty,” “lacking in confidence” and “suffering from decision fatigue” are just some of the ways we’ve collectively described how we’ve felt, and are still feeling, 18 months into this global pandemic.
Turns out, these feelings aren’t new. In fact, research conducted by the Public Relations and Communication Association (PRCA) prior to the pandemic showed that communication professionals were suffering. I was shocked to read that 89% of the public relations professionals surveyed struggled with mental well-being in the previous 12 months.
You don’t have to be a genius to realize the communication profession is facing a mental health crisis.
I’m not a mental health expert, and I don’t know what the answer is. All I know is we need to talk about this, and we need to do it now.
So, I am asking all communication professionals to spend 10 minutes to complete the online “So how do you really feel?” survey.
The global survey was launched by the Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence (CSCE), in partnership with research company Antenna, to coincide with World Mental Health Day (10 October). The research will provide insights into how communication professionals are feeling about their mental well-being, to identify the barriers to improving it and gain ideas managers can use to help ease the pressure.
This partnership between the CSCE and Antenna is a collaborative industry effort, with sponsorship from the IABC Foundation and the support of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, as well as IABC chapters and regions around the world.
Your insights will be compiled into a mental well-being report with case studies which we’ll share across the global communication network, including through supporting associations.
It’s time to check on how our communication colleagues are feeling about their mental well-being, because we’re stronger together.
Take the Survey
If you or someone you care about needs mental health support, please contact your local support service.
Sia Papageorgiou, FRSA, SCMP
Sia Papageorgiou, FRSA, SCMP, is a multi-award-winning strategic communication consultant and trainer based in Melbourne, Australia. She is a managing director at the Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence (CSCE), chair of the Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC) and is a former IABC regional and chapter leader. In 2021, she was named IABC Asia-Pacific’s Communicator of the Year.