Is PR stress damaging your mental health? 3 case studies

by | Oct 23, 2019 | Analysis, Public Relations

There are more than enough pressures in life and in work—having to put on a brave face, feeling like you have to change the way you act around your coworkers, or making sacrifices between work and family commitments are just some of them. Everyone handles these personal challenges differently—and no one story is the same.

Being a PR professional has been ranked as one of the most stressful jobs in business time and time again. Because of this, it’s vital that the industry, especially agencies, make changes to ensure they are helping improve their staff’s stress levels and subsequent mental health issues.

At Hotwire, we’re committed to a cultural change in our business to create an environment of openness and acknowledge people’s differences. We encourage our employees to be open about mental health and other personal challenges they may experience, and we provide our people with professional programs to give access to the support they need.

In honor of Global Mental Health Day 2019, people from all our global offices shared examples of personal challenges they have experienced, and today, we are proud to share these stories:

Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl… the girl who has everything?

Is PR stress damaging your mental health? 3 case studiesRemember the opening scene of The Little Mermaid? The one where Ariel (another redhead!) asks the musical question, “Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl…the girl who has everything?” Looking from the outside in, I sometimes do feel I’m the girl who has everything; an amazing job leading a world class company, two daughters I adore, friends and family who love and support me. And a feeling of success from all I’ve built over the years. However, there’s more to my story.

It all happened before I understood what was going on. I had gotten low, really low. I was exhausted and had to force myself to get out of bed every day. I couldn’t wait to come home and go back to sleep. At the same time, I had trouble turning my brain off and everything negative seemed to be magnified. I couldn’t concentrate, had a hard time making decisions, and yet I had to show up at work every day pretending like everything was just ne. I was anxious and depressed. And once I started sharing my story at work, I realised I wasn’t alone. This ‘aha’ moment for me was all about me being brave enough to bring my whole self to work…

It’s also when I learned the importance of self-care. Being mentally healthy and physically as well. There is no magic spell to change the way you feel. If you are suffering with depression or anxiety, the first thing you need to do is go see a doctor.

Getting enough sleep, eating well, drinking lots of water, getting regular exercise even if it’s light are all really important to mental health. I check myself and make sure I’m not getting lazy about any of these things because I’ve found if I’ve slipped on one, I’ll feel it.

I also practice gratitude. It sounds silly but it does help. I promise you. I take time out every day to reflect on the things I’m grateful for and this isn’t a bunch of ‘woo woo’, it’s science. Gratitude reduces toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Research con rms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. So, with that I’m grateful for having the opportunity to share my story and therefore my whole self.

So, call me crazy because I am in good company

Is PR stress damaging your mental health? 3 case studiesI’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard Kanye West described as ‘crazy’, but I’ve resonated with almost every action he has taken. When he jumped on stage to interrupt Taylor Swift in 2009, I could completely imagine doing the exact same thing, expecting the ‘crazy’ label to follow.

Like Kanye, I have Bipolar disorder, categorized as periods of extreme mania or depression. If I show up one day with bangs? Bipolar. When I work until 3am? Bipolar. The tattoo on my left wrist that I plan to get removed? Bipolar.

Bringing your whole self to work when you don’t know which self will show up is hard. But I nd comfort knowing there is beauty and possibility in chaos that others like me have used to their advantage. Ted Turner founded CNN and created the “always-on” news cycle we know today; Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Theater is one of the most successful dance companies in the world; and Mariah Carey still holds the record for weeks at #1 on Billboard Hot 100. Thought to potentially have bipolar disorder, but not officially diagnosed, Steve Jobs even said, “…while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

So, call me crazy because I am in good company. I cannot imagine a world without the contributions from these individuals. For me, I love writing and that is the contribution that makes me whole, and that I bring to work every day. I can only dream of the words yet to come—that my superpower may help bring to light.

I owe it to myself to bring my happiness and joie de vivre

Is PR stress damaging your mental health? 3 case studiesI am happy… you know how hard those three words can be? Ask yourself the question: are you happy? Well, spoiler alert, I can tell you, that I am utterly, truly and wholly HAPPY and it feels so good to say it out loud!

Breaking news: it is not easy to get there! At the age of 18 my life took an unexpected turn. I was raised by the most wonderful and loving parents and surrounded by a big sister whom I love deeply. Life was easy, simple…all rainbows and butterflies. But on a Saturday afternoon of November, things changed brutally when my father died in a terrible accident.

I had only left for college two months before to live a new life, and so quickly after this my world was collapsing around me. My favourite man in the world was gone when I needed him the most. At this point you have two roads to take: the one going down or the path to happiness. I decided to choose the second. Yes, my father was no longer with me—there’s was no changing that. But, he will always live in every fiber of me. He was the most funny and lovable person you could ever meet. I had to grow up fast and become the man I am today, without him by my side, guiding me, listening to me… But you know what? Even if he wasn’t physically there, in a way he was there. I’ve always felt his presence, and even today, sometimes I still talk to him and turn to him when I need to make a decision. I am the person I am today thanks to him.

Fifteen years later, I’m now a proud and happy 33-year-old man, living my best life, accompanied by my partner whom I love more than anything in the world, dancing and singing in musicals, doing a job I love and enjoying every moment of my life.

And every day at work, I owe it to myself to bring my happiness and joie de vivre. From day one, Hotwire has been so welcoming and tolerant. No one is here to judge you. Not only do they love to see peoples’ differences, but they nurture them. I’m happy to be a part of the Hotwire family and even happier to be a Borderless Thinker. Talk about happy moments! Being on stage is simply one of the best feelings in the world. Yes, I’m loud. Yes, I’m proud. Yes, I make way too many jokes. Yes, I live life to the full but I’m happy, and Hotwire allows me to be.

See more profiles and read the full report here—highly recommended reading.

Fiona Chilcott
Fiona Chilcott is Chief People and Culture Officer at Hotwire.