By: Carrington Power
“Socials can be a joy- with the right team, fair compensation and an adequate amount of support,” – Miciah Garcia, digital media coordinator at Chico State
It’s no secret that social media has negatively impacted the mental health of many users. Bullying, sleep disruption and unrealistic expectations about appearance are a few aspects of social media that are prevalent and can drain someone’s mental health. Deleting the apps entirely or limiting time spent on the phone can be solutions. However, people working in public relations and other fields that require social media are not always able to do this.
A 2022 study conducted by Opinium and the Public Relations and Communications Association shows that 90% of PR professionals struggle with their mental health.
This can be the result of an overwhelming workload, feeling unfulfilled in a current position or mentally-taxing work.
Chico State’s Digital Media Coordinator, Miciah Garcia, described her experience working as a social media manager for a California racial justice non-profit during the height of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
“It took a mental toll, shaping messaging for socials after George Floyd’s murder, and for following instances of violence and injustice,” Garcia said.
Garcia went on to say that there were a lot of positives occurring on social media during that time, such as an increase in education regarding racial injustice and a highlight in important messages and voices. Despite the heavy subject matter, she focused on the positives of her work and kept a brighter outlook.
Another aspect of mental health struggles in public relations is keeping a healthy work-life balance. Andrew Staples, Chico State’s public relations manager, makes a to-do list for each workday and reviews it at the end of his day. Although there is always more work to finish, there is a feeling of accomplishment when examining the work that you have completed.
“Public relations and strategic communications is not a 9-5 job. There will be times when you are working after hours pursuing a good story or dealing with a bad one,” Staples said, “However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t practice good work-life balance habits.”
Staples also mentions that it can be helpful to set a boundary for when you stop checking work emails and messages.
“…When I worked in the Bay Area in the tech industry, I made a rule not to check my email after 9 p.m.,” Staples said, “That way, I wouldn’t see something come in late and get spun up and not be able to sleep at night.”
Both Garcia and Staples have some advice for students pursuing or about to go into the public relations and communications fields.
“I’d urge any social media professional to try to keep things in perspective,” Staples said, “Understand the negative comments on social media are going to be from people who are passionate and don’t necessarily mean the messaging of a particular post didn’t meet your goals.”
Garcia emphasizes that working as a content creator online can be a positive experience if you work with a good team and are fairly compensated. However, when work begins to seep into your personal life, it’s essential to put limits on what you are and are not willing to do.
“…Give yourself boundaries that protect your mental health, like no phone/computer time throughout your week,” Garcia said, “And on your vacation days/mental health days, I encourage you to completely unplug from work.”
While working in PR and with social media can seem stressful, there are ways to combat the stress through keeping a positive mindset, a healthy work-life balance and setting boundaries. Social media does not always have to seem like a negative thing, taking steps to protect your mental health is essential and can lead to an overall increase in self-fulfillment.