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News And Views

News & Views

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  • 11 October 2019
  • Christine Jewell

Be Kind To Your Mind

As we launch “Be Kind To Your Mind” (BKTYM) globally at Zeno today, we asked Christine Jewell, Managing Director of 3MZ and the ‘godmother’ of BKTYM, to share where the inspiration came from and what she and the Monkeys have learned since launching BKTYM in London last year.

Here’s what she told us: We all know the saying “it’s PR not ER” but the stats tell us it doesn’t always feel that way.Research by the UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) into the public relations profession found that over a fifth of PRs have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, while the highest stress levels in the sector are experienced from within agencies and consultancies. Echoing these research findings, the results of our own Zeno Employee Engagement survey back in 2017 delivered a strong call by our team for a focus on mental health issues, both as a way of giving back to our community and helping work-life balance at the agency. Putting a spotlight on mental health we sat up and took notice. We formed a team of people from across the agency and from all levels of seniority. We discussed the issue in more depth and talked about why mental health was important to us; all of us had been touched by the issue – some of us tragically - either via a friend, family member or loved one, or our own personal experiences. We wanted to tell people it was OK not to be OK sometimes. To encourage people to speak out. To show them how we can help ourselves and take time out if we need it. And most of all to dispel the stigma of talking about the mental health challenges that most of us will face at some time in our lives.

Be Kind To Your Mind was born. Supporting Mental Health Awareness Week for two years running the programme launched at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week in May 2018 with a call to ‘reclaim your lunch break’. Internal research found that meetings were creeping into diaries right through the day leaving many of us with no time for any breaks at all. We encouraged people to participate in a range of activities through the week, from a lunch time class at a local gym, a visit to a local museum or art gallery, a fun catered picnic in the park, to a talk by a professional British footballer about his own battles with mental health in a macho and highly competitive industry. Our programme is varied and aimed at both providing support should people need it and helping them equip themselves to prepare for or cope with challenging times. Five people, of varying seniority and diversity, have formally qualified as Mental Health First Aiders. They have been expertly trained to listen without judgement and are able to spot when people are struggling and point people to the resources and help they need. Resilience training equips us with techniques to reframe our experiences to help us to bounce back from the inevitable challenges. A series of ‘Zenability’ classes in meditation and mindfulness helped us to tap into our creativity and manage our ‘monkey minds’. Yoga sessions, walking meetings and creative safaris all get us moving physically and thinking in a different environment.

Collaboration is key Most recently we have entered into a pro-bono arrangement with the charity Mental Health Foundation, to provide PR and fundraising support through 2020 as a way of advancing the discussion through important research. As a global consultancy we aim to deliver a quality service to clients, often juggling multiple deadlines and issues, combined with multiple time zones, bringing pressure to be always available which can contribute to anxiety and burn out. Our own staff research showed that over 50% of us struggle to limit our use of technology during out of working hours, weekends and even when we’re on holiday. We looked at the role of technology and how we can help people better manage boundaries between work and life. We put in place guidelines for both colleagues and clients so we all work from the same understanding of when and how quickly we will respond – while always knowing someone will be there when absolutely needed.

Next up for us in London is a Laughter Therapy session. It’s yoga for the rib cage, boosting the good-vibes hormone serotonin, helping communication, creativity and positive thinking. Can’t wait! So, what have we learned from our year of being kind to our minds? If we are to be open about our mental health, listening without judgement is critical. We all experience the world from a unique perspective and our reactions differ. What works for some, doesn’t work for others. What some find super-stressful, others find enjoyable – even fun. That doesn’t make people better or worse, only different. And that’s just fine. Let’s embrace that. Self-care is also an important element of good mental health. We agency folk operate in a busy, 24/7 media environment and often work across international time zones. Most of us today also feel pressure to be out and about, living our best lives all the time. But nobody performs at their best when running on empty. Take a break. Get enough sleep, eat properly (yeah, well, none of us are angels so 80% of the time is good enough), move your body, don’t overdo the social life, and aim to carve out time for some peace and quiet away from tech devices. Even a simple walk can recharge the batteries and help you think through a knotty issue. In fact, that’s often when inspiration strikes.