9 -15 May 2022 is Mental Health Awareness Week. While societies have made leaps and bounds in recent years around talking about mental health issues in more positive ways, Simon Dent (founder and managing director of Dark Horses) noted in his 2019 article for The Drum that the marketing industry still has a long way to go.

Digital marketers have planned, delivered and supported mental health awareness campaigns for clients, but Dent notes that many “seem to be one-off quick hits” and PR centric. Very few campaigns go deeper than week-long communications on mental health until the next year’s Mental Health Awareness Week comes along.

How can we do better to ensure that we don’t continue the trend of “missing the longevity and real investment that this sort of work needs to be truly effective”? 

1. Empowering Teams with Mental Health Tools

When we surveyed our colleagues about the best practices from previous employers they wanted us to incorporate into our culture, things like access to mental health support and office-based GPs/ online GP appointments, Employee Assistance Programmes, regular mental health wellbeing and teambuilding activities, and company subscriptions to services and trainings from Headspace, Samaritans, as well as mental health first aid trainings.

Companies can go the extra mile by investing proactively in teambuilding tools like Gallup’s CliftonStrengths, and DiSC profile training to better understand team dynamics and so that employees can work within and across teams more effectively. With these tools, marketing teams can better leverage team strengths, and work through development areas through mentoring or delegating tasks more conscientiously.

2. Adopt a ‘Failing Forward’ Philosophy

As Dent so eloquently put it himself, we have to “have perspective in everything we do, cutting out catastrophising and understanding that people have bad days and not making them feel bad about that… You also need to be able to create a safe space for people to fail in. It’s very easy in this industry to shine a light on the wins and gloss over the defeats – but you need to be able to talk about the defeats. This helps people become more open and understanding.” 

Realistic expectations of what can be achieved is needed for under-resourced teams. Senior teams should also understand that good engagement on social media and on other channels requires long-term investment, and won’t deliver revolutionary results overnight. Growing an audience is a marathon, not a sprint, but is definitely worth the investment!

3. Contributing Authentically to Mental Health 

Marketing teams also need to ask themselves: are we contributing in a meaningful way to bettering mental health in our industry in our communications, or are we just contributing to the noise and deflecting attention from life-saving services? How are we supporting mental health in the long-term?

In Spotify’s third volume of Culture Next, 87% of millennials and 77% of Gen Zs stated that listening to audio reduced their stress levels. 84% of millennials used audio as a tool for mental health, and 79% of Gen Zs felt audio helped them to cope and heal. Around 55% of Gen Zs and 80% of millennials reported feeling like part of a global community due to their podcast and music consumption. 

As an Adtech focusing on digital and interactive audio, AdTonos are proud to indirectly be supporting a segment of marketing that helps build a sense of community and positively affects users’ mental health! In terms of our direct contributions to making mental health matter in marketing, it is our mission to deliver highly profitable, targeted ads while also ensuring users have the best customer experience possible. 

As part of our onboarding process, we ask all newcomers to add three of their favourite songs to our company playlist to help break the ice! Our developers also start each workday by sharing a song with the team; we feel it’s little things like this that build a team up over time, and directly supports our team’s mental health. It’s these little moments that over time help create an open, supportive workplace where all colleagues feel they can be human, share a part of themselves, and put their mental health first.

We are a proud flexible and value-driven employer, with our teams working remotely, with flexible working hours, a collaborative company culture that also respects personal autonomy, and transparency is at the heart of how we like to do business.

You can read Simon Dent’s original piece in The Drum here, or Spotify’s report here. Liked what you read about our company values and want to know more about our audio advertising solutions? You can find out more about AdTonos here.