Mental Health in the Advertising Industry During the Time of COVID-19

Advertising, with the possible exception of only the stock trading, may be considered the ultimate in high risk-high reward industries. It’s literally a world where one idea can mean millions in the company coffers and 15th-month pay plus a trip to some exotic destination for all the employees. Or it could mean even more late nights and working weekends trying to recoup lost earnings, all in a bid to stave off “right-sizing”.

The agency environment has thus become one of the most pressure-laden as well as extremely cutthroat. With so much at stake, so many things are sacrificed by those who dare be in it, like sleep, family time, and social lives, just to name a few. All these of course, can take a toll on not just our physical health but also our mental health.

Before we go any further, let us first define mental health as referring to the everyday ability of our brain to function at its normal levels, thus letting us process information at our usual rate. The key phrase here is “usual rate”. So no, mental health does not refer to mental disability or illnesses.

But mental health also isn’t about turning a struggling creative into a Cannes Lion-winning one or maximizing the brain functions of a strategic planner. It’s about their brains being able to function properly at the same rate it normally does, day in and day out. 

And given the aforementioned reality of our industry, it is but inevitable that we constantly overuse, misuse, and abuse our brains, leading to many of us suffering from a deterioration of our mental health.

Now add to this the new and extremely challenging “new normal” precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the years, advertising agencies have developed their own systems that best utilized and maximized their personnel. All that went down the drain when we were forced by COVID-19 to carve out a new working environment in our homes, to restructure our processes, and to realign our rules of engagement with a reality still in flux….all while being expected to churn out our normal business numbers and potential award-winning work.

Which meant our already intense environment just got a lot more pressured. Which again, takes a harsher toll on our mental health.

And in an industry such as ours, where creativity, craftsmanship, passion, agility, and responsiveness is at the heart of everything we do, a deterioration of our mental health is similar to a race car driver suddenly finding that his car no longer responds to his insistent smashing of the accelerator. You go nowhere really, really fast.

So if you find yourself suddenly feeling unusually depressed or anxious, unable to sleep or control your emotions (some of the more classic signs of a deteriorating mental health), do yourself a favor and contact any of the following:

The National Center for Mental Health

Hotline number: 0917-899-USAP (8727) or 7-7-989-USAP (827).

It’s open 24/7 and provides free mental health support for all, especially those affected by COVID-19.

The Philippine Mental Health Association

Contact number: 0917-565-2036.

They also offer online counselling via their Facebook page. Contact them via FB Messenger or through [email protected]

The Mindcare Club

They are a network of mental health practitioners, psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors who offer telemental online services. For now, they can only be reached through their website (, their Facebook page (Mindcare Club) or you can join their community (MCC community).

We can not stress enough how important it is for those in high-stress industries to take care of our mental health. Because no amount of work stress (or success) is worth losing your mind over.

Elixir Health & Wellness Brand Solutions is Ace Saatchi & Saatchi’s healthcare-focused business unit, tasked with growing the company’s roster of pharmaceutical clients and brands. As a team faced with healthcare communication briefs day in and day out, they have become de facto experts in all things health, and have become staunch advocates of several health causes, including No-Tobacco Day, Anti-Obesity, as well as several cancer advocacies.