Adland leaders share their experiences with mental health in Heart On My Sleeve story book

A collective of industry leaders, dubbed the ‘Mentally Healthy Change Group’, have come together with the Heart On My Sleeve movement to release the Heart On My Sleeve story book.

The book is a compilation of stories from industry leaders about their experiences with mental health struggles, in an effort to address mental health in adland and remove the stigma around seeking help.

The Heart On My Sleeve story book is a combined industry effort to remove the stigma surrounding mental health

Contributors to the book include DDB CEO Andrew Little, One Green Bean CEO Claire Salvetti, Group M CEO Mark Lollback, BWM Dentsu MD Belinda Murray, Swift Media CEO Pippa Leary, PHD CEO Mark Coad, and Ogilvy Australia CEO David Fox.

The storybook follows the 2018 Mentally Healthy study, carried out by UnLtd and Never Not Creative, which found that adland experiences higher rates of mental health issues than the general population. 56% of participants showed signs of depression, 55% anxiety, and 57% stress. The study also found that only 29% of participants would disclose their employer or colleagues if they had been diagnosed with depression.

Nina Nyman, CMO of UnLtd and co-chair of the MHCG, said: “In the storybook, you will find real and raw stories from some of the most senior leaders in our industry, opening up about their challenges with mental health. The storybook aims to show that mental health is something that impacts all of us across all levels and that it’s a strength to ask for help and put your own mental health as a priority. We hope that by reading the stories of others, we all feel more comfortable to speak up when we need help.”

Andy Wright, founder of Never Not Creative and co-chair of the MHCG, added: “It’s incredible to see so many high-profile and influential leaders in our industry take the lead in sharing their stories. Whilst our awareness of mental health is increasing, particularly with the success of campaigns such as R U OK? Day, we hope to take this one step further within the industry and make it ok to say when you aren’t ok.”

Mitch Wallis, founder of the Heart On My Sleeve movement, said in a statement: “I can’t think of an example in any other sector in Australia or globally, where the CEOs of an industry get together and expose the deepest most vulnerable parts of themselves in order to lead by example to advocate for mental health. It’s hard to put into words how proud this makes me. This is what change looks like. This is what progress looks like.”

The Heart On My Sleeve book was launched last week during a panel at Advertising Week featuring members of Mentally Healthy Change Group – Coad, Salvetti, and national MD of Tribal Davy Rennie.

During the panel Coad, Salvetti and Rennie shared the initiatives that have been installed into their organisations that foster better mental health.

Salvetti spoke of the transparency of the Havas Group leadership team with their employees about their own experiences with mental health.

“Something that we’re actually doing on our R U OK? Day is the leadership of the Havas Group is coming together to talk about their personal journeys in this space,” Salvetti said.

“For me, it’s about leadership showing that under this steely exterior where we look like we’ve got our shit together every single day, showing that we don’t, and being vulnerable.”

Rennie referenced the DDB Group’s increased expenditure for mental health training and the Employee Assistance Program.

“We’ve got about a 15% to 20% uplift in expenditure for training for mental wellness in the business. Now, whether that’s individual training for people to deal with the pressures of agency life or for us as leaders to help our teams navigate an incredibly tricky time,” Rennie said.

“It’s such a tricky subject when you’re speaking to your team about it and you’re going to through exactly the same thing as them. So, having the right training, leveraging products like our EAP – which is our employee assistance program is so important.”

Coad spoke of the success of PHD’s efforts to introduce a positive culture at the company, referencing national new business and marketing director Chloe Hooper sharing her own story with the company.

“Instilling a culture where people feel valued and they can talk openly; I think we’ve done a lot to do that and where people do need help, to provide them with an open environment where they feel like they can get that help,” Coad said.

“I don’t think we do that necessarily better than anyone else but I think we spend a lot of time trying to do that well. Evidence of that is some of our guys do speak up. We kicked that off with the Heart on the Sleeve PHD piece that Chloe drove within our group.

“I take a lot of pride in the fact that people like Chloe and the people who chose to share their stories feel like they can actually do that.”

The Heart On My Sleeve storybook is available for free download here.


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