PR industry faces mental health crisis, new research reveals

Adgully Bureau |

There has been in increase in diagnosis of mental health conditions in the PR industry, according to new research carried out by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

The research – conducted by Opinium – revealed that on average, 91% reported poor mental health in the last 12 months. Meanwhile, the proportion of PR professionals that have been diagnosed with a mental health condition has risen from one in four (25%) to a third (33%).

The number of PR professionals who find their jobs stressful has stayed consistent year after year. In fact, three out of ten (29%) continue to rate their stress levels within the range of 8-10 (with 10 being extremely stressful). This figure has remained stable since it first rose from 26% in 2021.

As in past years, PR professionals continue to have a higher risk of poor mental health than the general UK workforce. In the last year, 63% of UK workers report having poor mental health.

Before the pandemic around 70% of UK PR professionals worked from an office all the time. This is now down to 9%. Professionals largely agree that working from home has positive aspects, with 81% appreciating a better work-life balance and 78% finding the lack of commute good for mental health.

Other key findings:

  An average wellbeing score of 45.3, indicating a slight decrease from the previous year.

  60% of respondents have told someone at work that they have struggled with their mental wellbeing, up from 51% last year.

  59% said that having too much work to do is the biggest barrier for taking time off to deal with mental health.

  58% cited an overwhelming workload as a key source of workplace stress.

  60% reported that having too much work is the biggest barrier to taking time off for mental health reasons.

PRCA CEO, James Hewes, said: "Amidst the rapid evolution of the PR industry, we must refuse to normalise stress as an inherent part of our culture. The past five years have brought significant change, with more on the horizon. As we navigate the shift to hybrid work environments, it's urgent to grasp the implications for our workflows and communication dynamics. A constant barrage of updates can hinder focus, and an 'always-on' mentality isn't sustainable. It's time for leaders to amplify the conversation on mental health. While progress has been made in acknowledging and addressing mental health challenges, lip service alone won't suffice. We must ensure our actions match our words. By prioritising wellbeing, we pave the way for a healthier, more resilient workforce, benefiting both our businesses and our people."

CIPR CEO, Alastair McCapra, said: “I am immensely proud of this partnership and the publication of this year's mental health audit. The findings shed light on the progress we've made and the challenges that still lie ahead. Notably, the data reveals an issue that is both unacceptable and unsustainable, with workload stress remaining the primary culprit.

The report marks another pivotal moment in our journey toward creating a healthier, more supportive future for our industry. I encourage our respective members and the wider profession to carefully consider these insights and share them with your teams. By working together and taking decisive action, we can drive meaningful change and build a resilient, future-ready, and thriving PR profession.”