PR consistently ranks as one of the most stressful professions in America. It’s number eight on CareerCast’s 2023 list of Most Stressful Jobs. Topping the list are enlisted military personnel, firefighter, airline pilot and police officer. Yes, PR is in that vicinity.
It makes sense. PR people are on the front lines of a high stakes mission to capture an organization’s message and bring it to the people who can make or break that organization. We have to sail the choppy, shark-infested waters of a whirlwind 24-hour news cycle and a maelstrom of social media distraction to place our stories at the right time in the right way before the right people to move them to action. No wonder we’re stressed out.
And yet, we have no choice but to eat a steady diet of stress to do our jobs effectively. Those awful headlines that make you so depressed you just want to curl up and tune out? The nasty, unfiltered comments and attacks that make you want to log off your (insert social media account)? We have to dive in to know what’s going on and bring our stories into the mix. And we have to move like lightning to seize opportunities before they vanish.
At our firm, we partner with nonprofits working to solve challenging societal injustices, which means we have to stay immersed in heartbreaking news all the time. And we’re proud to stay on top of what’s breaking to be part of the conversation on how to fix it. Without us, some important stories wouldn’t be told. (No disrespect to our esteemed peers in the news media, without whom we’d all be ignorant sloths.) In short, we take PR seriously. And doing so can take a serious toll on our mental health.
That’s why we’re giving ourselves a break. Four of them, to be exact: Mental Health Days, a new benefit we established in 2024. An extra day once every quarter when the office will close to allow everyone to step away from headlines, deadlines, revisions and crises. A day off to disentangle, destress and attend to our mental health in whatever ways we see fit.
Talking about mental health has long been stigmatized. Hopefully, in this small way we’re helping to make it easier to prioritize mental health in our daily lives. Not a bad way to start the New Year.
I know 2024 will bring fresh heartbreak and disappointment. And we’ll be right there fighting the good fight, while unapologetically taking time off now and then to take care of our mental health. If you work in PR, I hope your organization gives it a try. For that matter, why not other industries? I already know of a web design firm that’s successfully integrated quarterly Mental Health Days. Let’s make it a trend.