Why is Mental Health Awareness so important in the creative business?

We take a look at how a creative career can impact mental wellbeing, plus how we’ll be promoting Mental Health Awareness Week 2024.

by Ben May | People & Culture | 16 May 2024

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 2024, taking place from 13th to 19th May. The theme this year is “Movement: Moving more for our mental health” (MHAW). The CAF team will be getting out and about, spreading a little joy throughout the week. But first, we look at the importance of mental well-being at work, especially for those working in creative industries, and crucially, how we look after each other at work.

Working 9 ‘til 5

According to the NHS, mental health problems represent the largest single cause of disability in the UK (NHS). Without support, mental health conditions can have a serious impact on our confidence, identity, productivity and enjoyment at work. 

Work can be a protective factor for our mental wellbeing, but without the right support, it can also contribute to a worsening situation. We spend a disproportionate amount of our lives at work, and now that working from home is here to stay, the lines are easily blurred between work and home life. And while a fulfilling career can bring contentment and self-worth, work worries and stress can lead to anxiety and depression surrounding finances, career trajectory and life fulfilment. 

This seems to be especially the case with those working in creative industries. Ulster University and Inspire’s research found that those working in creative industries are three times’ more likely to suffer from a mental health problem. Most commonly-diagnosed disorders were anxiety and depression (Ulster). 

The very nature of using your creativity to earn a living means making yourself vulnerable to others’ opinions. And then there are the irregular hours, and the often-fraught race to a deadline. From pitching for new projects to creating new work, and working on multiple rounds of feedback, creative roles can be high pressured and critical.

Healthy mind, creative mind

When we’re mentally healthy and actively looking after our wellbeing, we are more productive, more creative, and can lead a happier life overall. For creative people working in marketing and design, it’s crucial to have the mental freedom to think, play, and create brilliant work. 

NABS, the charity dedicated to advancing mental wellness in the advertising, marketing and media community, saw calls for its services soar 49% in 2022. It says 66% of its emotional support calls in 2022 were related to mental health, and its therapy referrals rose by 32% YoY (NABS). 

It’s good to see mental health being more openly discussed, with referrals on the rise, meaning that more people are getting help. But there’s still much more we can collectively do. At Catch A Fire, looking out for each other is ingrained, and we believe it’s part of the spark that gets our creative flames a-flickering. 

There are many ways creative teams can support each other – here are just a few of the things we do at CAF: 

How does your team work to look after each other? We’d love to hear your tips and recommendations.

Mental Health Awareness Week at Catch A Fire

As a team, we promote mental health awareness all the year round, but Mental Health Awareness Week is an important time to spread the word and help others in our local community. This year, we’re taking three approaches: 

Sowing sunshine 

Building on our activity from last year, the whole CAF team will be out and about in our local villages, spreading a smile by sowing wildflower seed bombs in empty or abandoned spaces. The goal? To sow a little sprinkle of sunshine in neglected pockets in the local area. 

And as time spent in nature is proven to improve mental wellbeing, our hope is that we can benefit our local communities and our wildlife populations in our own small way.  

Wellness walks 

We’ll also be launching our latest office initiative – CAF Wellness Walks. Every week throughout the year, come rain or shine, we’ll get the entire team up and out for a half hour romp through the village or around the vineyard our office is based in. Fresh air, time away from our screens, and a chance to have a natter with colleagues – perfect. 

Volunteering with Mental Health Resource 

Finally, several members of the team will be swapping design for digging for a day, helping create a new garden space for Mental Health Resource. The team will be using their Ignite Day (a day gifted by CAF to dedicate to charity work), rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck in at Mental Health Resources’ allotment garden, where it offers person-centred mental health support. 

Keep an eye out on our social channels to see what we’re up to during Mental Health Awareness Week, or watch our video from last year.