When it comes to Valentine’s day, I am your typical sceptic. I’ll swap a card, fine, but I cringe at over the top public displays of affection, and I despise paying inflated prices in restaurants to be squashed in with romantic diners staring dreamily into each other’s eyes. No thank you! I would much prefer to hide on the sofa for the evening with my hubby, our dog and a good bottle of red.
I was therefore surprised by how good it felt when I came to work last week and found a rose and a personalised packet of Love Hearts on my desk, to thank me for my hard work over the year. This got me thinking more about Valentine’s Day and what it’s really for. There are lots of different stories about where the day originated and when it was first celebrated, but the general gist is to show your affection for someone else, with words, gestures, gifts etc. Isn’t that a great concept? Who doesn’t want to feel loved?
PR is known for being a competitive and high-pressured industry. PR Week recently presented the findings from its 2019 Mental Health Survey and a shocking 64.7% respondents said they have either suffered from, or been diagnosed with a mental-ill health. More worryingly, only 39.4% of line managers felt they were equipped to assist employees with their mental health.
Last year CCgroup launched its new strategy focussed on people, their happiness, their mental health and their wellbeing. A lot of work has been done since to help normalise the conversation about mental health at CCgroup. This included a workshop to help us break down stigmas associated with poor mental health and to talk through the everyday misuse of language related to mental ill-health. There are now two trained mental health first aiders for us to talk to if we are struggling. In our latest employee happiness survey, 89% of CCgroupies said they felt they had someone to talk to about their mental and physical health. This is a big step in the right direction, but there is still work to be done.
A few weeks ago, we hosted a panel session with both internal and external speakers opening up to us about their struggles in the workplace whilst living with mental illnesses. Unfortunately, I wasn’t around for the session itself, but I heard a lot about it, and what stood out most to me was people’s surprise to hear of colleagues suffering. A broken leg needs no explanation, but what if you are suffering with depression or anxiety and you haven’t figured it out yourself yet, let alone how to articulate it to your colleagues or loved ones? Someone described this to me as living behind a mask, that being at work is like a performance and you don’t take off your mask until you get home. I can’t imagine how hard it is to live like that, and yet so many of us are doing so, day in, day out.
It’s hard to know who is putting on a brave face and we won’t always know what private struggles our colleagues are dealing with behind closed doors. But, in making efforts to put mental health on a par with physical health, we are starting to be able to deliver the support they need.
So, the rose on Valentine’s Day was a lovely thought, but the message behind it was deeper rooted than that. A little can go a long way, and in that small gesture, I felt appreciated and cared for. We shouldn’t underestimate how important it is for our mental health to feel valued in both our work and our personal lives.
I am really proud of the work we are doing as an organisation to tackle serious issues around mental health and wellbeing. We have plenty more obstacles to overcome, but I’m looking forward to seeing how we continue to face them head on this year.
Happy Valentine’s ❤️
If you have any ideas or suggestions as to how we could tackle any of the issues discussed in this blog, please comment below or email them to me: Rose.Chapman@ccgrouppr.com