Expectations and concern for our mental health has made a major shift since the pandemic began in 2020. This is one of the key findings from a global mental health and wellbeing report released by Havas.
The hangover from the pandemic is evident with 63 per cent of early adopter or ‘Prosumer’ Australians saying they feel more anxious and stressed now than they did before COVID-19. Prosumers are defined as the top 15 to 20 percent of consumers who are first to market, forward-thinking, influential, proactive and socially conscious.
Critically mental health issues have become so prevalent that nearly nine in 10 Prosumers globally consider it ‘one of the most concerning issues of our time’. In Australia we are even more concerned at 93 per cent.
The major global study into Mental Health by Havas surveyed more than 13,000 women and men in 30 countries to explore what has become the second or “pandemic hangover”. The survey garnered insights into current attitudes of the public, and those who are influencing trends and behaviours, whom Havas classifies as ‘Prosumers’.
A key takeaway is that personal issues are having a greater impact than global concerns on an individual’s mental health, particularly as it relates to anxiety and depression.
Recognising this impact, Havas in Australia is making R U OK? Day on September 14, a mental fitness and wellbeing day for all its 400 Australian employees. The morning is focused on self-care and this year’s theme is “I’m here to hear”, emphasising the importance of creating space to have meaningful conversations. The session will be led by Founding Board Director of R U OK?, Graeme Cowan, followed by an afternoon provided as time off for staff to focus on themselves at home or elsewhere.
Other key findings from the survey include:
• 85 per cent of Prosumer Australians, and 72 per cent of Australians overall, believe addressing mental health issues is crucial for the overall wellbeing of society.
• 70 per cent of Australian Prosumers say among the reasons we are suffering more from mental health issues is that worryingly ‘everything in society is about money’. This is at close to 60 per cent for mainstream Australians.
• 28 per cent of Australian Prosumers cited the ‘economic crisis’ as impacting their mental health and 36 per cent cited their ‘personal or family situation’ as causing mental challenges.
• 15 per cent of Australian Prosumers cited their stressful ‘work situation’ as affecting their mental health.
• Regarding the impact of broader global issues on their mental health, Prosumer Australians rated COVID-19 at 10 per cent, the war in Ukraine and world political tensions at 6 percent and climate change issues at 6 per cent.
• 71 per cent of Australian Prosumers surveyed said that ‘saying everything is okay even when it is not true is a now a social convention’, which is a concerning trend.
James Wright, group CEO Havas Creative Network Australia and chairman of mental fitness charity, Gotcha4Life, said: “Mental health concerns are becoming prevalent in every corner of our communities, workplaces and schools. Whilst it’s being better recognised and addressed there is much more we can do. We need to keep moving from an expectation of simply ‘being well’ as the bar for our health, to an expectation of ‘healthy wellbeing’. That means looking at our health, mental and physical, holistically, so we feel good about ourselves.
“Our survey found 83 per cent of Aussie Prosumers believe having a healthy lifestyle – exercise, eating well, taking care of your body – is the best way to prevent mental health issues. But we should also be looking at ways to improve self-care and to support one another as we all tackle the pandemic hangover”.
Wright said there has never been as much interest in mental health or mental fitness as now. “The challenge to employers and brands is how can we build meaningful opportunities for our people and customers to have authentic connections in real life beyond the screen,” he said.
Wright is chairman of the Board at Gotcha4Life, a not-for-profit Australian foundation with a goal of zero suicides, which is delivering mental fitness programs that engage, educate and empower local communities. With one in two Australians needing mental health support in the last three months, Havas participated in the recent Gotcha4Life 24-hour row on September 9 and 10 (World Suicide Day), furthering their support.
“If we don’t take action on the mental health crisis we have missed the opportunity to learn from everything that we experienced during the pandemic years,” he said. “We know our young people are the loneliest generation of all. They may be brilliant at checking-in but they have forgotten how to check-out from screens and focus on their own and their loved ones emotional well-being.”
Gus Worland, founder and director of Gotcha4Life, said: “We should be teaching skills in our education and health systems to equip people from an early age to help build mental fitness and emotional resilience.
“If our goal is a future free of suicide, then building mental fitness will help in suicide not even being a thought or an option in people’s minds. Many people experience thoughts of suicide and the latest data shows that in 2020-21, one in six (16.7 per cent or around 3.3 million) of Australians aged 16–85 had serious thoughts about taking their own life at some point in their lives.”
In recognition of the need to support our own employees’ mental fitness and support for our colleagues, Havas has been engaging the Gotcha4Life team’s workplace training for Havas agencies in Australia.
In addition, this month Havas has launched Havas Minds: Mental Health Awareness series as part of its global Havas University online training, as part of our commitment to a healthier workplace.
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