• Heleena Webber

Mental Health in Advertising & Marketing: Results

To kick off 2019, ZGM with support from Ipsos and NABS, conducted a cross-Canada survey to see how people in advertising and marketing feel about mental health issues.


Currently, 1 in 5 Canadians report that they experience mental health issues each year. We hypothesized that these numbers could be higher for people within our industry.


In total, there were 386 respondents, with most responses coming from advertising agencies. Generally speaking, 4 out of 5 respondents said they had experienced mental health issues in the last year – a number much higher than the Canadian average.


Top issues were mostly anxiety-related, which makes sense when you look at the top contributing factors. A fast, deadline-driven environment with frequent overtime and high expectations affect stress and anxiety levels. This contributes to increased alcohol abuse, isolation, and troubles sleeping or eating.

Not surprisingly, having better work-life balance through flexible work schedules, remote work options, and more time off (either for personal mental health days or vacation) were some of the things that employees thought could help most – along with seeking professional help.


Check out the results from the survey below to learn more about common issues, ways of coping, and more.


THE RESULTS


Common Issues Experienced:


We asked survey-takers to check off all the mental health issues they have dealt with in the last year. Like many Canadians, anxiety and depression topped the list, however they exceeded the national averages of 5% for anxiety and 8% for depression. By far, most of the issues below are anxiety-based.

  1. Generalized anxiety disorders (anything anxiety-related) = 61.13%

  2. Depression = 56.06%

  3. Social phobias, such as social anxiety = 15.21%

  4. Panic disorders = 13.80%

  5. Post-traumatic stress-disorder = 10.99%

19.44% of people said they had not dealt with any mental health issues in the last year.


Over 61% of employees have experienced anxiety-related disorders in the last year, and over 56% have experienced depression.

Many people (34.08%) experienced mental health issues prior into advertising or marketing, but many (23.94%) found that their conditions worsened or started (20.85%) since entering the industry.


Challenges Experienced Related to Mental Health:


Next, we asked people to check off all the challenges they had experienced in the last year due to mental health reasons.

  1. Insomnia or troubles sleeping = 57.75%

  2. Isolation = 37.46%

  3. Troubles eating (over or under-eating) = 36.62%

  4. Alcohol abuse = 28.73%

  5. Brief psychotic event (e.g. breakdowns) = 20.28%


Sleepless nights are common with over 57% of people citing they had troubles sleeping due to mental health reasons.

It’s also worth noting that 15.21% of survey-takers experienced suicidal thoughts, while 16.90% said that they hadn’t experienced any issues.


Seeking Professional Help:


42.82% of people said they had sought professional help (like therapy) in the last year to deal with mental health issues, whereas 57.18% had not.


Days Lost to Mental Health Issues:


We also asked people how many days they have lost at work in the last year because of the challenges they were facing.

  • None = 51.55%

  • 1 to 5 = 32.96%

  • 6 to 10 = 9.30%

  • Over 10 = 6.20%

However, people were split on using sick days for mental health issues. 51.55% employees said they had called in sick for mental health reasons, and 48.45% said they had not.


Job-Related Stress Factors that Contribute to Mental Health Issues:


So, what's at the root of these issues? We asked survey-takers to select up to 3 contributing factors.

  1. Being over-worked/overtime = 52.68%

  2. Deadline-driven environment = 32.68%

  3. Poor management OR unrealistic expectations (tied) = 29.58%

  4. Feeling unsupported = 25.92%

  5. Low wages = 19.44%


Advertising and marketing are sometimes known for heavier workloads. Almost 53% of employees said this contributes to mental health issues the most.

How People Cope vs. How People Should Cope:


Over the next two questions, we asked respondents to select up to three things people do to currently cope with these issues vs. three ways people should cope.


How Do People Commonly Cope

  1. Alcohol = 63.50%

  2. Ignore the issue = 45.99%

  3. Miss work or call in sick = 34.42%

  4. Cannabis = 20.47%

  5. Exercise = 19.88%


How People Should Cope

  1. Professional Therapy = 81.31% (versus 15.73% use this currently to cope)

  2. Exercise = 59.94% (versus 19.88% use this to currently cope)

  3. Talking to friend or family = 53.71% (versus 17.51% use this to currently cope)

  4. Meditation or yoga = 36.50% (versus 9.50% use this to currently cope)

  5. Travel or extended time off = 34.72% (versus 10.39% use this to currently cope)


Alcohol or ignoring the issue are the top things people do to cope with mental health issues - but we recognize that talking to people (either through therapy or friends/family) and exercise would be better alternatives.

Resources Aware of and Used:


We also asked employees what mental health resources they know are available vs. what ones they have used.

  • NABS = 37.09% aware of vs. 4.45% used

  • Company benefits = 65.58% aware of vs. 29.67% used

  • Paid personal days = 42.14% aware of vs. 27.60% used

  • Fitness, yoga or meditation classes = 20.47% aware of vs. 18.99% used

  • Company policies = 17.80% aware of vs. 4.75% used

  • There are none = 13.06% aware of vs. 42.14% used

Overall, many people don’t use anything within the industry to deal with mental health issues, even though they are aware of many outlets.


What Could Companies Do to Support:


We asked employees what companies could do to better support those who faced mental health issues (up to 3). Not surprisingly, with being overworked showing up as one of the top contributors to issues, most of the solutions centered around a better work-life balance.

  1. Ensuring better work-life balance = 56.97%

  2. More flexible work arrangements (e.g. work from home, flex days) = 46.59%

  3. Better benefits to support professional help = 38.58%

  4. Personal days for mental health reasons = 32.94%

  5. Increased vacation time = 29.67%


Unsurprisingly, workers want better work-life balance with almost 57% of people saying companies should provide this, and almost 47% wanting more flexibility in their day-to-day.

With the rising trend of remote work dominating many headlines, it could be important for advertising and marketing companies to offer this in order to remain competitive, if they aren’t already. In fact, according to a 2018 study from Indeed, 47% of people who work for a company without remote work options feel frustrated.

Where Companies Stand Today:


To see if advertising and marketing agencies move the needle over time, we asked a series of baseline questions to establish how aware and supportive company management and co-workers are of mental health issues.


While management is generally supportive of mental health issues (46.40%), there is still work to do with 20.46% respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that they feel discrimination over issues.


Co-workers appear to be more accepting with only 11.23% of respondents saying they agree or strongly agree with feeling discrimination from co-workers, and the majority at 54.18% citing that they feel supported.


BACKGROUND OF RESPONDENTS


In case you're curious, a breakdown of who answered this survey is below.


Company Size

  • Under 10 = 13.73%

  • 10 to 50 = 30.83%

  • 51 to 100 = 26.68%

  • 101 to 500 = 15.28%

  • 500+ = 13.47%

Departments

  • Creative = 27.98%

  • Media = 11.40%

  • Account or Project Management = 24.09%

  • Research, Strategy or Planning = 25.54%

  • Digital = 8.80%

  • Other = 12.18%

Years in the Industry

  • Under 1 year = 5.96%

  • 1 to 5 years = 27.20%

  • 6 to 10 years = 22.02%

  • 11 to 20 years = 29.53%

  • 20+ years = 15.28%

Market Size

  • Under 1,000,000 = 31.09%

  • Over 1,000,000 = 68.91%

Gender Identification

  • Female = 61.92%

  • Male = 36.27%

  • Non-binary = 1.30%

  • Prefer not to answer = 0.52%

Age Group

  • 18 to 24 = 5.18%

  • 25 to 34 = 43.01%

  • 35 to 44 = 30.31%

  • 45 to 54 = 16.32%

  • 55+ = 4.66%

  • Prefer now to answer = 0.52%

Work Arrangements

  • 27.20% work from the office all the time

  • 59.33% sometimes work in an office or remote (non-office location, coffee shops, etc.)

  • 13.47% work remote half to all the time


Want to chat more about the results? Feel free to shoot me an email at heleenawebber@gmail.com.


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