Reflecting on World Mental Health Day as an Event Professional

Working in the Events Industry, our days revolve around looking after people.  From finding the dream venue for a client, to creating unforgettable moments for VIP attendees and ensuring your bride and groom really do have the greatest day of their lives, the ‘guest journey’ and their experiences along the way are integral to every move we make whilst planning and running an event.

We create a carefully crafted itinerary, detailing every moment and every direction for our delegates, to ensure they know where to turn at each stage of the event.  We check, double check and triple check our guests’ special dietary requirements, liaising with catering teams and kitchens to make certain the right plate hits the right place mat and keeps everyone happy and healthy.  We supply our event teams or groups of volunteers with briefing notes and breaks to keep them hydrated, smiling and in the know.  But hang on… there’s something missing?

Are we looking after ourselves, too?

Cited the fifth most stressful career in a survey by CareerCast, pipped to the post only by airline pilots and emergency services we know it’s a high-paced and demanding job.  But should it really be up there in a top five with life saving, fire fighting careers?

Some of the factors which contribute to the stress of a career in events include long hours, international travel, always being on the go, missing meal times, irregular sleep patterns and less time with family and friends.  Our own wellbeing can be, and is often, neglected in favour of our event and the guests and clients involved.  There are plenty of unknown answers, too, which can lead to increased anxieties and pressure to perform and deliver on site.  When we’re tasked with ensuring we bring in the right attendee numbers for a successful event or remember to carefully plan all our timings and schedules, just one wrong turn could throw everything off kilter if we’re not keeping our feet on the ground and our head in the game.

So are we really in control of our mental health in this industry?

Whilst we’ve still got a way to go in educating our colleagues and ourselves about healthy approaches to work, and avoiding burnout, the industry has taken huge steps in recent years to improve the way we look at stress and wellbeing, which is no longer just a buzzword but an integral part of our day-to-day lives.

There are incredible movements and people paving the way for our industry, such as EventWell.  Established in 2017, EventWell created the first Event Industry Wellbeing week, creating conversations and opportunities for Event professionals to take time to learn more about their wellbeing and looking after themselves and their teams.   They have made huge steps in actually encouraging us to think about our approach to mental health in the workplace as something we can improve and nurture, not just shrug off as something we’ll never have time to think about.

It’s great that the conversation is now well and truly open – we might still be up there as a ‘stressful’ industry to be a part of but it is, in my eyes, the most exciting and inspirational industry too – and as I say yes to another espresso after a long day or juggle schedules and spreadsheets, I’ve learnt to push anxieties and stress aside as I pinch myself I’m working in an industry I love, live and balance with my personal life in equal measures.

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Some simple steps for Event Professionals looking to improve their mental health and wellbeing?

  1. Know that ‘it’s OK not to be OK.’ Talk to people – your colleagues, your team, your crew – know that when working on an event, you’re not alone and there are people who can not only share the workload or help answer questions, they can lend an ear too and be there to listen.
  2. Recognise the power of endorphins! So you might not be cycling to work every day or up at 5am to jog through your local park, but I have found incredible benefits in regular exercise and the impact it’s had on not just my physical but mental health have been invaluable. For me, it’s an early alarm clock and a HIIT session in the gym, or a wind down in the evening at a Yin Yoga class- but try something new and find something that works for you.
  3. Know when to switch off. Yes- we’re all guilty of having work phones glued to our hands and checking emails before the sun rises, and sometimes, we do need to be in work mode out of the office and in the evening.  But taking small steps can go a long way in not feeling the pressure to reply and be present on social media and our email inboxes.  I’ve recently turned my email notifications off on my personal phone, which is a tiny step, and yes I can still go and check them, but the fact my phone isn’t always buzzing with a work email means I’m making a conscious choice to check and respond in my personal time, if and when I feel the need to.

Do you have any tips to share? How do you manage wellbeing in the world of event management?

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Reflecting on World Mental Health Day as an Event Professional

  1. Hey Juliette Thanks for your blog it is really interesting and makes some great points. I think as an industry we are still well behind the curve in actually doing anything about mental and physical wellbeing. The last couple of years have definitely seen the conversation open up but there is still a lot of talk and not a lot of action. I speak on the subject at a number of industry events and although the sessions are well attended when I ask who feels comfortable speaking about stress/mental health etc with colleagues or managers the numbers who say yes are always really low. at my last talk out of 90 people 5 said they felt happy to speak about it. A lot of work has happened to raise awareness and individuals are taking responsibility for their own well-being however organisations are not following suit as far as I can tell. I see a huge disconnect between individuals and organisations in terms of wellbeing. People are a companies biggest asset and they need to be treated as such. A company that has wellbeing as part of its culture is proven to be more productive, more profitable and happier thus creating a really positive eco system with high retention rates. I believe it is time for action something needs to be done. I don’t see why companies wait until someone suffers ill mental health at which point that person is signed off sick etc the costs can be huge. Why don’t companies work at prevention and support employees with building their mental fitness? The benefits are huge. As well as Event Well there are organisations such as Stress Matters an industry Pledge Scheme set up by Laura Capel-Abra which offer organisations practical, affordable, simple and deliverable steps and advice on reducing stress and improving wellbeing within that organisation. This is a great subject and one I am passionate about Thank you for your blog.

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    1. Thanks so much for your feedback and insights James, really helpful! I really hope we are on the way to making steps forward, however small, but totally agree on organisations needing to step up and do their bit.

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