As part of mental health awareness month, hear from Edelman’s integrated brand specialist, Ash Bonica on the power of communicating to break down stereotypes, improve relationships, and aid recovery.
As professional storytellers, our job is to define the narrative of a global brand, create manifestos that inspire mobilisation of an industry, identify human insights that influence the way consumers act and behave, and bring objects and experiences to life through words alone.
There’s an inherent irony in the fact that we can craft a story, but we struggle to tell our own.
It’s no secret that the communications industry has a reputation for being one of the most stressful sectors in the world. There is always someone or something that demands our urgent attention. Pair this with our need to be constantly connected, it makes it almost near impossible to disconnect. So many of us face this challenge, and so many do so in silence.
I've experienced anxiety my whole life. It ebbs and flows, through the good times and the bad, but always follows you no matter where you go. In 2020, it captured me within its grip and buried me so deep I couldn’t get out. Or so is how I felt when I lied in bed, my chest aching, my body tingling, and my mind racing.
It was a feeling I couldn’t define. A helpless, confused, guilty, terrified mess. I was worried about letting down my team - the judgment, the resentment that would come from not being present at work. I worried for weeks as I laid bed-ridden in fear, although assured by my most trusted colleague that everything was going to be ok and that my fears were not my reality.
It wasn’t until many months later that I could reflect and see the light through the trees. And when the light returned, I wasn’t met with judgment or resentment. I was met with love, laughter, support, and empathy. I was met with colleagues who supported me every step of the way. That in time, I felt I could open up to, be honest, and share my truth. That I learned, was nothing to be ashamed of. And most importantly, I wasn’t alone.
When you open up to others, it might take you by surprise that those people might have been waiting to open up to you too. I feel privileged to work for a business that not only embraces and takes a stand for mental wellbeing, but practices what they preach - a business committed to making sacrifices for the betterment of its people.
And so I learned that when you use your voice, the people that care will listen. And you might not realise just how many people truly care.
In 2019, Edelman signed the Mentally Healthy Minimum Standards and we are the first PR agency in Australia to make this important commitment. Other examples of what we’re implementing at Edelman through our ‘Livewell’ program include flexible working hours, mental health training, and providing employees with guided meditational tools via our partnership with Calm. We are also working hard to promote a healthy work/life balance through our ‘Dusk to Dawn’ global policy, designed to curb non-urgent emails outside of work hours (7pm to 7am for us early risers in Australia).