Mental Health at For The People

Part 2: Understanding The People

Olivia King
Oct 10, 2017 · 5 min read
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Paranoid that it would sound a bit like you’re taking advantage. Maybe there’s a risk of showing you can’t take pressure and we need to be able to do that.

Another said:

I wouldn’t request it ‘for’ mental health. I’d request unpaid leave, vacation, or look at reducing my hours (3 or 4 day work week), or start interviewing elsewhere. I think if a work situation is impacting my mental health that much I need to leave that workplace. I’ve done it in the past & it’s made a huge positive difference.

What we took away is that there is a precedent in many workplaces (maybe even our own) to label performance expectations that impact our mental health as something that is simply ‘part of the job’. Importantly too, we’re now conscious as employees of the impact this is having. We should be considering how our work creates an environment where we can not only work well, but feel comfortable staying in.

  • Championing a support culture over a performance culture. Acknowledging when people need time away from work
  • Maintaining an open environment where we can discuss issues and check in with how people are feeling on a regular basis
  • Providing training on how we understand mental health and how we can incorporate positive behaviours in our day to day work (eg. better ways to give feedback, more positive group discussions)

We’re in an industry where there’s a lot of competition and a lot of pressure to perform against peers. How well we’re performing is often based on subjective rather than technical measurable ideas. e.g. “That’s a good idea” vs “That’s not a good idea.” We’re validated by external measures e.g. awards, feedback from creative directors and clients — this can be difficult to deal with as the emotional experience you have at work is out of your control a lot of the time. Agency culture and environments — expectation to put in long hours, go and party, be on all the time — can exacerbate all these more intrinsic factors.

Since reading these results, we’ve been working hard on our For The People Mental Health Policy. It’s got a way to go but we’re excited to share some of the ideas we’ve had for our own workplace, but also the creative community as a whole. Stay tuned for Andy’s Part 3.


Stories For The People

The various musings of our people

Olivia King

Written by

Design Director at @forthepeopleau , specialising in product and brand. Occasional host on Adobe Live. Casual academic at UTS. Formerly @ustwo .

Stories For The People

The various musings of our people

Olivia King

Written by

Design Director at @forthepeopleau , specialising in product and brand. Occasional host on Adobe Live. Casual academic at UTS. Formerly @ustwo .

Stories For The People

The various musings of our people

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