43 | Mental Health in Digital Marketing & SEO Industry


Mental health is an important part of everyday living and so this episode discusses this specifically in the Digital Marketing world.

Amy McManus, from AM Marketing, a digital specialist agency based in Kent, joins me to speak about her experience. She is speaking at Brighton SEO and the talk is called Keep up or Give up: Imposter Syndrome, Burnout & Mental Health.

How did the topic come about?

Amy’s personal experience meant that not only did she take philosophy and sociology at university and as part of her final studies she was looking at alienation in the workspace but also because she had a car crash. Firstly, her studies meant that she was already prone to looking at how people work and how mental health affects productivity. Then, when she had a car crash, which left her with chronic pain, she became so mentally unwell herself that she found herself being unable to even pick up the phone. Amy therefore is a strong believer in an environment where people look after people. 

How can a Work Space Cater to a Good Mental State?

Things will always happen, there’s grief, depression, anxiety. So, it’s a matter of understanding how a workplace can cater to a healthy environment and it doesn’t have to be rocket science either. 

No late nights. Amy tells staff to go home and doesn’t let them stay past 5.45pm. You need to be strict because everyone need downtime and see family or watch a film to come back refreshed in the morning.
Allow for mental health days. The company allows physical days off but if someone wanted to take these for mental health they can do so with no questions asked. That person may need 1 day off compared to 2 weeks because of burnout. 
Working to 80% capacity. In Amy’s previous environment they would work to massive deadlines and work to 100% capacity, so when another client came on board they would have to work to 110% to fit it in. 80% means there’s room for work and ability to work well. Then if they’re working constantly at 100%,  Amy would hire someone new.
Amy also saw a difference when she changed working hours 9am to 9:30. It meant more people had time to eat breakfast perhaps but it seemed that the half an hour made a big difference for productivity. 
“Your staff spend most of their time a week with you so you’re responsible as a business owner to look after their well-being.” says Amy McManus.

Why is Digital Marketing prone to Mental Health Issues?

I asked the question why is it digital marketing specifically, was it to do with isolation and working from home for example. Amy suggests a few things. The main problem is that we have a young workforce, a lot of what we’re seeing, things just haven’t been around for a long time. There’s high pressure generally in the millennium/generation Z generations anyway; money and food/housing. There’s also a high screen time. There are loads of medical studies that show the brain activities change due to this, and not for the better. Especially for those not wearing glasses. It can effect things like sleep quality of REM cycles etc. It’s the last thing before bed and first thing as you wake up, which obviously affects mental well-being.

Then there’s the social media perfection, especially Instagram. Everything is photoshopped and you’re comparing your life, and full of its crud, with the perfect ideal on others’ social media. Being on social media for a high amount of time with curated content can have a huge effect. Digital is constantly changing and so it means the pressure is there to keep up. Hence her title of the presentation – Keep up or Give up. 

Meditation Apps

  • Head space
  • Simple Habit

What to Do when your Have a Mental Health Issue?

Speak to a friend or family member to speak honestly. Realise that you’re not alone and hopefully this will help you stop feeling isolated, as this is one of the biggest problems. Find a decent counselor to help you. There’s free NHS courses too even if there’s a bit of a waiting list. Then there’s medication if it gets serious or if it’s the last option then think about Yoga and meditation too.  

But, Amy suggests exercising and going to the gym helped her. Studies show that this can be more beneficial than medication and other therapy. Personally, I go dog walking for that piece of mind and find myself refreshed. 

Women in Digital Marketing 

Did you know only 27% of people are women in the industry? I’ve been part of #womenintechSEO, a meetup for ladies in Tech SEO specifically, helping us progress in careers in a male dominated industry. It’s particularly young women in digital, and seeing them as business owners is an absolute fraction. Why is that? A survey showed that 52% of women perceive the tech industry as a male industry. 

Amy shares an experience where at her first job, in an agency. She heard someone say “oh great, we’ve got someone to make the tea.” This pushed Amy to accomplish so much but at the same time she suffered burnout so at the detriment of her mental health, and physical too with lack of sleep etc. This shows that by changing male behaviour towards ladies should help women’s mental health in a work-place. Do you agree? Join the conversation and catch Amy on…

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Music credit: I Dunno (Grapes of Wrath Mix) by spinningmerkaba (c) copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/jlbrock44/56346 Ft: Jlang, 4nsic, grapes.

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