Advertising leaders unite to remove stigma and improve mental health

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 31 July 2019

The Mentally Healthy Change Group (MHCG), a collective of leaders in the creative, media and marketing industry, have launched the Heart On My Sleeve storybook to help remove stigma around mental health in the industry.

The results from the Mentally Healthy 2018 study into mental health within the industry revealed that 56% of participants showed signs of depression, 55% anxiety, and 57% stress - all notably higher than the general population.

The study also highlighted a stigma issue. While 89% would be happy to work with someone who has been diagnosed with depression, only 29% would tell if they themselves had been diagnosed.

Following the results, a group of leaders across the industry have formed MHCG to help improve our levels of mental health and to empower the industry to "smash the stigma" around mental health.

The Heart On My Sleeve storybook is a collection of first-person experiences from CEOs and leaders of the industry speaking openly about mental health and the importance of discussing it.

“In the storybook, you will find real and raw stories from some of the most senior leaders in our industry, opening up about their challenges with mental health," UnLtd CMO and Co-Chair of the MHCG Nina Nyman says.

"The storybook aims to show that mental health is something that impacts all of us across all levels and that it’s a strength to ask for help and put your own mental health as a priority. We hope that by reading the stories of others, we all feel more comfortable to speak up when we need help.”

The book contains stories from industry CEOs and leaders including Pippa Leary, Virginia Hyland, Anthony Gregorio, Mark Lollback, Claire Salvetti, Andrew Little, Charmaine Moldrich, Gai Le Roy, Chris Freel, Mark Coad, David Fox, Grace Liu and Brendon Cook.

The Heart On My Sleeve storybook will be available ffrom today. Download the e-book here.

“It's incredible to see so many high profile and influential leaders in our industry take the lead in sharing their stories," Never Not Creative founder and Co-Chair of the MHCG Andy Wright says.

"Whilst our awareness of mental health is increasing, particularly with the success of campaigns such as RUOK? Day, we hope to take this one step further within the industry and make it ok to say when you aren’t ok.”

The book launch follows previous efforts by Omnicom-owned media agency PHD to raise awareness around the issue.

Taking inspiration from Mitch Wallis, founder of Heart on my Sleeve, a mental health movement aiming to "humanise" the issue of mental health, PHD released its own internal e-book.

“I can’t think of an example in any other sector in Australia or globally, where the CEO’s of an industry get together and expose the deepest most vulnerable parts of themselves in order to lead by example to advocate for mental health," Wallis says.

"It’s hard to put into words how proud this makes me. This is what change looks like. This is what progress looks like."

Last year, on the AdNews and NGEN podcast, Initiative's Danielle Galipienzo spoke to journalist Josh McDonnell on the adland's struggle with mental health, and the step young people within the industry should take to manage it.

If you need urgent help, please contact:

  • Lifeline 13 11 14 
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 
  • MensLine Australia 1300 789 978 
  • Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 

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