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Opening up about mental health in the creative industry

Addressing mental health at work with Superimpose

While the topic of mental health in the creative industry is more on the table than ever, what are we doing to incorporate positive mental health advocacy into our creative workspaces? We spoke to Ollie Olanipekun, Co-Founder of Superimpose Global about his thoughts on dealing with mental health in the creative industry, and advice for young creatives on how to look after your mental health at work.

Ollie Olanipekun

What changes would you like to see industry-wide in how we approach and deal with mental health in the creative industry?

I would like to see some acknowledgment from the industry itself that it contributes to mental health issues. For example through the hustle economy, or lack of clarity on WoWs in a multi-generational workforce, or the imbalance of power/voice regarding gender and LGBTQ+ dynamics.

I think that as organisations we can each identify the factors with the strongest influence over their employees’ well-being, then as an ongoing workstream, proactively implement change with written policy and plan of action regularly published.

I think we should all be investing in proactive solutions to combat mental health stressors – this will include leveraging external expertise – it should be a part of investing in your people, creating not only a professional path for them but also a safe space for them to work.

How can we help each other on a more individual level to approach mental health in the workplace?

I think there a few key ways we can support each other in the workplace:

  • Provide pathways to solicit anonymous feedback but also an open forum to share solutions without calling anyone out
  • Provide a confidential mechanism for an individual to ask for assistance from a safe person within the organisation
  • Train individuals in the organisation to become Mental Health First Aiders
  • Most importantly, the priority is removing the stigma of what it means to suffer from a mental health concern – anyone can be affected and that is okay

For younger people in the creative industry struggling with this, do you have any advice on how to navigate this at work?

I would say finding a mentor who helps guide you in your career – using them as a sounding board for your feelings as well as ideas. This does not have to be your line manager, that is a common misconception. In fact, finding a mentor outside of your department or organisation also ensures you are receiving a broader perspective on how to manage/grow your career and manage your mental health.

Ask your company leaders what tools they are using/what plans they intend to employ to prioritise mental health – this is a transparent, but safe way to ensure your organisation is prepared to support you as a well-rounded individual not just push you to deliver to your job spec.

Most importantly – do not sacrifice your health for the hustle, everyone needs a break and with physical and mental distance, it is easier to gain perspective on how to approach a problem. Use your annual leave and "duvet" days; use the free perks from the company; raise your hand when your workload gets too heavy.

Considering mental health in the creative industry and how creativity can provide solutions for mental health stigmas in the workplace, why not take a look at the New Blood Awards briefs? The 2020 briefs include topics such as "Money and mental health" by Barclays. 

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