The Chartered Institue of Marketing (CIM) has called upon the marketing community to lead the charge against workplace mental health stigma, amid concerns of a “mental health pandemic”.
While approximately 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem each year, a survey by the Office for National Statistics shows the number of adults in Britain with depression has doubled during the pandemic; with new sweeping restrictions adding to the psychological strain endured by many since the outbreak of COVID-19.
With the government’s furlough scheme coming to an end on October 31 and many employees again being advised to work from home, the coming weeks will prove a difficult transition for many.
For marketers, the consequences of social isolation and enforced absence from the office has had a severe impact on mental wellbeing. Research from recruitment experts Hays into the views of 16,200 people, revealed half (49%) of professionals across the UK stated that their employer did not provide any wellbeing support during the first lockdown with over three-quarters of professionals (77%) say their employer has a responsibility to look after their wellbeing.
Ashley O’Neill, regional board member at the Chartered Institute of Marketing and UK marketing manager at Proactis, said:
“Organisations need to start normalising mental health and positioning it as something to be managed like physical health – without judgement or stigma.
“This change needs to be more than a short-term campaign or sporadic email, it needs real long-term cultural change, and who better to spark this and lead the charge than the very people who utilise their skills daily to influence people, change mind-sets and communicate messages – marketers.”
Despite being the leading cause of sickness related absence from work, with 70 million working days and approximately £2.4bn lost annually, there is still a stigma attached to the topic of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
In response, CIM have issued five of O’Neill’s key points where marketers can utilise their skills to lead the charge in the fight against workplace mental health stigma:
- Looking after employers’ wellbeing should be a long-term initiative for any organisation. Marketers are well versed in devising strategies. Use these skills to layout objectives and signpost a plan of action for achieving them, using your analytical and communication skills to build a case for investment
- In the same way you would take the time to learn about your customers, talk to your colleagues to better understand their thoughts on the company’s culture and internal attitudes to mental health. Share these findings to highlight issues and the actions being taken – doing this will help lay the foundations for a business-wide change in attitude
- The best way to destroy mental health taboo is to undermine it through education. As professionals in communication, marketers are well placed to work with HR/Learning and Development departments to help develop and shape training content that is carefully tailored to the appropriate audience and communicated effectively to engage them
- Marketers have a wealth of expertise managing campaigns and this is exactly what is called for to help change an internal culture. Use your marketing toolkit to make mental health part of your organisation’s rhetoric. Get involved and lead the charge
- Don’t forget your own team in your efforts. Make yourself approachable, discuss people’s mental wellbeing in 1-2-1 meetings, and if you are comfortable doing so, share your own experiences. Most importantly, demonstrate a commitment to wellbeing by taking care of your own.
“As marketers, we have the skills to help our organisations break through the stigma that all too often surrounds the topic of mental health, not only with our direct teams, but throughout the wider business.
“Marketers understand people and how best to get messages across, making them the perfect people to lead the mental health debate.”
For COVID-19 advice and support for CIM members visit: https://www.cim.co.uk/membership/advice-and-support-coronavirus/