Breaking the Stigma: Advocating for Mental Health in AD+PR agencies 

By Colby Huston

Have you ever been so overwhelmed with work or a client that you want to break down, hide under a blanket and never do anything again? We get it. We’ve been there. You are not alone. 

 Agency life can be consuming. More specifically, public relations and advertising agencies like MHA work day and night producing work, often on tight deadlines. We have to always be ready to react to breaking news stories, crises and social media-related stories that involve our clients. In other words, working in public relations, advertising and marketing agencies is demanding, and if your mental health is going unchecked due to long, gruesome hours of work, homework (if you’re a student), and simply trying to live life, here are some tips to support your mental health along the way. 

Learn to Breath 

This may seem obvious, but it’s not just breathing for survival. This is learning how to breathe consciously. Many people say they “live” in autopilot mode all the time. Most of them complain and say it’s to help them not become so overwhelmed by everything they have to get done in a day. In fact, according to a study conducted by Marks and Spencer “96% of 3000 people admitted to deciding something on autopilot mode”(Rajat Das).  When living on autopilot, you are not conscious of your decisions, emotions, and thoughts. 

 When on autopilot, you are not aware of your breathing. Instead, you are taking short breaths. Conscious breathing is a long, deep belly breath. You are only focusing on your breath coming in and out. Bringing this to your client meetings, brainstorming sessions and more will assist you in better concentration and focus, regulate your nervous system, and most importantly your mood. 

Set Personal and Professional Boundaries

Boundaries are important in every aspect of life. Have you ever felt uneasy, out of control, and lashed out at people? According to Harley Therapy, there are 12 signs that you lack boundaries, that is, “You find decision making a real challenge, you suffer from ongoing guilt and anxiety, you may be acting passive aggressive towards others, and you fear being rejected or abandoned.”

While these are not the only ways someone can experience or feel from having a lack of boundaries, they point to the importance of noticing that a lack of boundaries brings more anxiety, depression and other mental health symptoms. 

 A study conducted by Never Not Creative, a Mental Health organization found, “20% out of over 1,800 participants surveyed showed symptoms of depression and 29% more showing symptoms of anxiety contributed by factors like job satisfaction, stress, and pressure (from themselves and others).” This also goes hand and hand with talking to others when you’re struggling with your day-to-day or your workload. It’s okay to struggle and it’s okay to not be okay. Remember that you are not alone and to take it one day at a time. 

Get into a Summer vs. Fall routine

The transition period from summer to fall is difficult for many. It can feel like you’re starting all over again. It is important to prepare yourself to expect any transition period to be uncomfortable, difficult and unpredictable. One way to accomplish this is creating routines to help you feel in control of your everyday life. 

In fact, Therapy Group of NYC found that, “Routines help alleviate anxiety… creating predictable scenarios through habits allows your mind to adjust, understand what to expect, and alleviate anxiety over the unknown.” Agency life can be unpredictable, but finding ways to systematically approach challenges and organize your time will aid you in feeling better about yourself, your ability to work and live.


Ever felt so angry you want to yell into the abyss? Journaling is a wonderful outlet to release those pent up feelings and emotions. Journaling offers a way to process through stress from work and clients, business calls, demanding deadlines and long work days. 

According to URMC Health “Journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood by: helping you prioritize problems, fears and concerns. Tracking any symptoms day-today so that you can recognize triggers and learn better ways to control them and providing an opportunity for positive self talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors.” 

Reach out to others for help

Everyone struggles, everyone has bad days, and EVERYONE has mental health problems. Regardless of occupation, we are all human and all have good and bad days. Remind yourself that, you may be having a good day but your coworker, boss or even your client may not be and vice versa. Be mindful and aware and remember that it’s okay to ask for help. 

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