Recently I was in conversation with Nikhil Dey, Vice-Chair, Weber Shandwick for my podcast, Mrigashira. It was inspiring to learn how he has become an active supporter to address mental health issues. I was speaking to him coinciding with World Mental Health Day that happened last week.
In that conversation, Nikhil recalled how he wrote his first post on Mental Health, aptly titled Mentalist, a year ago. He admits it was a topic he had never thought of before a year ago. I was curious to know how this journey began and why.
Don’t need to be a specialist to make a change.
Nikhil says it was at PRAXIS, the largest gathering of PR & Communications folks in India, that he was introduced to the topic of mental health for the first time. He sat in a session by a mental health practitioner. His takeaway from that was a sort of introspection on what he was doing as a leader in the community to bring this rather taboo topic onto the table. The talk titled, #unmuteyourself made him realise you don’t have to be a specialist to make a change.
This pandemic has put the mental health on the map in a significant way not just for PR and Communications sector. Every industry and every leader is now part of the broader lexicon. The good thing is that this is just the beginning. There are several people out there who are genuinely interested and working towards removing the stigma from it.
PR profession is one among the highly stressful professions. It is highly customer-centric, and the work carried out is visible to customers. This puts tremendous stress. Professionals deal with chaos, confusion, and uncertainty all the time and pretty much daily. All these lead to discomfort in one’s mind. The pandemic brought with it more uncertainty, fear and fatality. It is now a double whammy that is increasing the need for a concentrated effort towards mental wellness.
Start with yourself
One thing that struck me during our conversation is the simple step that Nikhil prescribed to make a beginning. Start with yourself. Be invested in your own mental health and wellbeing. Have a conversation with yourself. That’s the first step towards unmuting oneself. Such conversations help you handle a bad day and a good day in the same measure. It helps build resilience to bounce back from stress, adversity, or trauma. Resilience makes less fearful of facing changes and uncertainties.
Working from home has blurred the little work-life balance one had. It isn’t easy to draw a fine line. This is increasing burnout. When we see how people around us are unmuting, and that has helped them bounce back, it is heartening to see how they are becoming flag bearers to get more and more people to feel comfortable to express themselves, says Nikhil. Our sector definitely needs more advocates, supporters, empathisers and mentors who can keep the mental health and wellbeing centre stage always.
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