Agencies need to let people set their own mental health boundaries, suggest experts

This article discusses mental health issues and suicide. If you or someone you care about needs support, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636. In an emergency, call 000.

‘Whose responsibility is mental health?’ was the topic of the third Mumbrella Sessions event held at Mumbrella’s offices in North Sydney yesterday.

The presentation was led by Chloe Hooper, head of growth and marketing, regional lead at PHD and Andy Wright, Never Not Creative creator and co-chair of the Mentally Healthy Change Group. The pair provided new insights into how media and marketing should be dealing with the topic of mental health.

Chloe Hooper and Andy Wright

Hooper and Wright pushed the idea that there isn’t one person or group responsible for mental health – rather, it should be shared by everyone in the industry, including the people directly affected.

“The reality is you have to look after your own mental health,” said Wright. “It’s not your business’s responsibility.”

Wright continued: “It’s a roller coaster industry. We’re very reactive. If you’ve done three late nights or two weekends, we know what’s going to happen. Someone around you has also got to support you and say, ‘Hey, I think we need to get some help for that person’.”

Hooper spoke of her own experience coming from the UK to PHD in Australia.

“I worked really long hours [in the UK]. I was really busy. And the culture that I then came into at PHD when I was working late was completely different. I was almost ashamed that I was working late.”

Wright talked of being praised for his unhealthy work habits in an awards list in the past.

“Under my photo was a testimonial from someone I worked with. He said: ‘I’ve never seen someone send so many emails after midnight’,” said Wright. “If you want to get into this list, what you’re going to do is send tons of emails past midnight.”

In addition, Hooper stressed the industry had to be aware of the difference between clinical depression and burnout, suggesting they were too easily confused.

“Clinical depression and burnout, they’re two very different things,” she said.

“I think where we’ve blurred the lines today. We’ve covered burnout, and we’ve covered mental health, and they’re not necessarily always the same thing.”

Hooper spoke of her personal experience with her mother’s mental illness journey.

“She’s clinically got depression, exactly the same as you could develop any other illness. She could win the lottery tomorrow and she wouldn’t be happy.

“If it’s work-driven, what are you doing as a leader? How are you helping your people and as an employee, how are you championing mental health?”

Wright added: “The only part in terms of business responsibility is not to make it worse. You don’t have to fix people. You don’t have to do anything around that.”

Wright noted that there had been an improvement in decreasing the stigma surrounding mental health.

“In 2018, we measured the kind of stigma levels of how comfortable do you feel telling someone that you might have depression,” said Wright, “How do you think someone might be treated if they were to come out with that? In 2020, when we did the survey, the stigma results improved by 25%.”


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