Our bubble is a small one and we’ll only be able to burst it with more diverse and novel views – yes the comms industry has an obsession with youth but they often have a point to make. We’ve partnered with Leeds Arts University to uncover what students of advertising are pondering today, and have selected the two stand out summary essays of their 5000 word research papers which they completed in their final year for their ‘Context of Practice’ module. Here Millie Davison, BA Creative Advertising, argues that maybe having what some may consider poor mental health is actually a good thing.

A mental health diagnosis

The aim of this research paper is to understand how suffering from mental health issues can impact upon the creativity of an individual and whether it is a hindrance or an aid with focus around the advertising world. There is no wrong or right in the creative industry, so an advertising creative’s mental state can deteriorate over time.

One in four people in the UK will struggle with their mental health at some point during their lifetime. Travel back to the start of the world as we know it and there will have been somebody suffering with their mental health. The difference is in the present day there are many more factors which we interact with on a daily basis that can increase the severity of it. For example, the individual’s social circle, quality of life and the situations they’re in. In 2004 renowned philosopher, Alain de Botton, spoke of ‘status anxiety’ which bluntly put is we all want what we don’t have.

We compare ourselves to one another, we worry too much about what others think of us and the possessions that we have. This leads to mental health concerns like depression, anxiety and feeling unsuccessful. People in a position of power, such as advertising agencies have a huge responsibility. They need to manage and constantly re-evaluate the way they are marketing products and services to the general population to ensure they comply with the ASA.

In an advertising agency, deadlines, stress, a last-minute change of mind from the client, opinions and being told your work isn’t good enough can all take a toll on the mental health of the creative. Graduates and juniors will perhaps find it the most difficult as they’re entering a new world where tutors aren’t there to hold hands or reassure them, instead they are faced with a harsh reality where industry professionals are not afraid to speak their mind.

The ‘Equality Act 2010’ protects those who are suffering from a disability under which a large number of mental health conditions are covered. Workplaces and educational buildings are now offering employees and students ‘mental health days’; where an individual uses one of their sick- days off to look after their psychological wellbeing. Some agencies now employ people to act as a ‘mental health first-aider’. Having this support network allows for the creatives to talk through what is on their mind and try to find a way to ease the pressure of it. It’s an age old saying, but that doesn’t make it any less true – a problem shared is a problem halved. 

Ask yourself, why is there a stigma attached to suffering with mental health? Especially when the world is more educated on the inner workings of the human brain than ever before. Years ago, when we couldn’t explain why it was happening, people thought those suffering posed a threat to others and they couldn’t live their life to its full potential. 

In actual fact, suffering from mental health can aid an individual’s life and creativity; scholarly articles, research studies and personal testaments are evidence of this. In terms of mental health aiding or hindering creativity, Robin Wight of the advertising agencies ‘WCRS’ and ‘Engine Shed’ is a prime example as he believes his bi-polar diagnosis is an aid to his creativity. However, this is not the case for everyone.