Mental health and events: are we doing enough?

On Tuesday 28th January, event profs arrived at The Ministry members’ club in Borough for an EventHuddle panel discussing one of the most important issues facing the events industry: poor mental health.

Working in events is frequently listed in the top ten most stressful jobs, with unpredictability, long hours and tight deadlines all playing a part.

On the panel were John Martinez, MD of event management software provider Shocklogic; Kate Corfield, Business Development Manager - Fitness & Wellness at Ministry of Sound; James Hitchen, General Manager of the Event Marketing Association and stress prevention consultant; and Chris Hill from the Law of Addiction.

Martinez began the discussion by detailing some of the mental health and wellbeing measures that he has implemented at Shocklogic, which has a global team of around 60 employees. In addition to daily meditation and open discussions around workplace pressure, the company also provides access to a councillor and financial advice for employees.

Martinez commented: “The keyword for me is compassion; that’s what I aspire to as a leader. We wanted to create an environment of trust where people felt they could speak up.”

The panel discussed responsibility and mental health, agreeing that both the individual and the employer have a part to play.

Corfield added: “I see a noticeable difference in people who are mindful of their mental health.”

Hitchens echoed Martinez’s point that employers need to create an environment where people feel safe to talk about issues around mental health and wellbeing.

Hill said: “There’s a real fear factor that you have to get through, and you get through fear with education.

The panel pointed out that mental health needed to be seen in the same way as physical health, in that everyone has a certain level of physical health which can be affected by a wide range of factors.

When it comes to mental health, environments create behaviour, and the panel briefly discussed the relationship with the events industry and alcohol. In an industry that remains centred around socialising and working outside of the regular 9-5 it’s important to make sure employees feel comfortable and included if they decide not to drink.

Lastly the panel discussed business targets and mental health. With many small business owners and freelancers in the industry it can sometimes be hard to say no to work even if resources are stretched thin.

Hitchens spoke of his previous role as a business owner, saying: “I was a yes man, putting undue pressure on everyone. Sometimes you need to push back and say ‘we’re at capacity’.”

Mental health continues to be a vital issue for the event industry to tackle, and in many cases we still haven’t found suitable solutions for the pressures many businesses and employees face on a day to day basis. Thanks to EventHuddle and the panel for continuing the debate.