Workplace Mental Wellbeing Audit 2021: Francis Ingham Forward

Francis Ignham, PRCA Director General

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), Opinium Research and The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) have published new research on the state of mental health in the UK industry. PRCA Director General Francis Ingham reflects on the findings and shares his own battle with mental health.

I thought long and hard about what to say in this foreword. And after a great deal of hesitation, I reached the conclusion that honesty was best. So here goes…

I have suffered from appalling mental health my whole life. Frequent bouts of depression; destructive and pointless anxiety; an underlying lack of confidence. All of which I’ve hidden from almost everybody.

Why do I say this now having kept quiet about it for decades? Because it would be disingenuous to do otherwise given the content of this report, and given the recommendations it makes, particularly about the need for candour.

Covid threw a powerful spotlight on mental health. I have never before had so many conversations about how people were feeling. And they were honest conversations, not the ‘Oh fine thanks. How about you?’ type. That’s one positive of Covid, and I can’t see it going away.

This report delivers data on where we are, and recommendations on what we should do. Some of its findings -such as nine out of ten practitioners have suffered mental ill health over the past year- are shocking. Others -such as three out of four have found their workplace to be supportive- are very welcome.

The four recommendations are simple, sensible, and sound. You shouldn’t feel guilty because you’re feeling unwell. You definitely should talk about the issue. We need to take better care of ourselves, and for many, that’s about workload. And where hybrid working works well, keep on with it -we’ve certainly embraced it at the PRCA and ICCO: some people like working from an office -cool. Some people like working from home -that’s cool too. Most people like a mix.

For many of us, this has been the most stressful, challenging period of our lives. Many people have been broken by it. Even more have come close to breaking point. But every crisis is a catalyst for change, whether for the better or for the worse. If we embrace the recommendations made here, then that change can definitely be for the better.