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On Mental Health Day, we decided to speak to industry experts to discuss what we can to normalise having a conversation...

World Mental Health Day: How to address the challenges of overworking in an ad agency

On Mental Health Day, we decided to speak to industry experts to discuss what we can to normalise having a conversation...
  • The outbreak of coronavirus has affected our daily routines.
  • We wanted to find out the good, bad and ugly sides of working while under house arrest and talk about if it's even possible to balance work and personal life in a situation like this.
  • On World Mental Health Day, ad industry experts got candid and told us how as leaders they are trying to address work pressure and bringing about changes.
Working from home has taken a toll on our mental health. Mounting uncertainty, work pressure and the physical stress of sitting in one position for hours, have led to changes in our lifestyle and sleep patterns, which has added to the stress.

According to a study conducted by GOQii, among 10,000 Indians that aimed to understand how they have been coping with the new normal, 43% of them agreed that their stress levels have been on the rise and are likely to be clinically depressed. 26% of respondents were suffering from mild depression, 11% were feeling moderately depressed, and 6% were facing severe symptoms of depression.

While glamourous on the outside, advertising is notoriously stressful and a hard job on the inside. The industry has always been infamous for normalising extreme working hours. With work from home, the stress levels, tough deadlines, demanding clients and high pressure have quadrupled. It is not really work from home. Work has become home now. It is normalised to the extent that copywriters often boast about bags under their eyes and for treating work like their life-partner. The advertising professional eventually either succumbs to this incessant toiling or gives up on their dream to settle for a 9 to 5 job.

Last month, the advertising industry lost a young professional due to cardiac arrest, which was induced by work stress last month. We had done a story to find out from the young copywriters if agencies are still refusing to acknowledge that burnout is a real issue in the industry. They had told us that the problem still exists and it all boils down to the notion that you cannot say no to your client.

So, on Mental Health Day, we decided to speak to industry experts to discuss what we can to normalise having a conversation about mental health at work, how to create a healthy workplace and address the examples of overworked and stressed employees.

We organised a panel discussion with experts like Subhash Kamath, CEO of BBH and Publicis Worldwide India and Chairman of ASCI, Rita Verma, EVP and HR Head, DDB Mudra Group, Sunil Seth, HR Director, South Asia, Dentsu International, Disha Daswani, Creative Director, Schbang. It was moderated by Dr. Marcus Ranney, General Manager, Thrive Global India.

The experts said it is important to acknowledge the work stress and make the employee feel welcome. With our panel discussion, we wanted to remind ourselves and our industry to move towards a culture where we can prioritize the importance of self-care, better manage stress, and enhance physical and mental-well-being for ourselves and our teams.

Experts also highlighted how it is important to remind your employees that work doesn’t define them and one should not assess their value based on the number of tasks they have ticked off in a day.

All this and much more in our conversations with experts below: