World Mental Health Day

Mental health: from awareness to action

On World Mental Health Day, we look at Felicity Haslehurst‘s guest blog for PR Academy. Awareness of mental illness is one thing, but what can the PR industry do to take action? Felicity assesses the current wellness landscape and uses personal real-world examples to highlight the challenges ahead. A must-read, below is an excerpt and you can go ahead and read the full article, here.

Awareness around mental illness is at an all-time high. The recent Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and the equivalent awareness month in the US, which is still ongoing, have both done a sterling job once again of putting this important issue firmly on our radars.

What has also been pleasing to see increasingly in recent years during these awareness periods, and particularly this year, is a torrent of proactive and lively conversation around mental health. Be it debate, discussion, news or support – we are talking more about mental health. And it’s a welcome development.

Perhaps the reason for this is the fact that, as a topic, mental health has become more mainstream. Take Burger King’s Mental Health Awareness Month ‘Unhappy Meals’ campaign. It was criticised and praised in fairly equal measure – but let’s be clear that it was a campaign about achieving more than just awareness. Is releasing a range of burgers for when people are feeling ‘pissed’ or ‘salty’ resolving anyone’s mental health problems? No. Was the campaign executed ideally. Probably not. But, by opening themselves up to ridicule and criticism, as well as praise, for its campaign, the clever people at Burger King leveraged its massive reach and brand power not only to raise awareness, but to start a conversation. And, in my opinion, that’s the ticket.

This I can say first hand. As a sufferer of depression and anxiety for the majority of my adult life, I can honestly say that all of the awareness in the world is worth nothing if you are met by a wall of awkward silence when you actually articulate the challenges you are facing as a result of your illness. And this is especially true in the workplace.

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