The New Culture in Marketing – Findings from CAMH's Latest Research Study

Ten years ago, the topic of burnout in our industry was verboten. Wellness in the workplace is becoming a topic that the marketing sector is increasingly more comfortable with, and for good reason.

As a sector, marketing and advertising had a well-earned reputation for working around the clock. The unwritten rules precipitated pressure, long hours and results at any cost — be it sleep, relationships or health. From years working in tech, I saw this compounded even more so in a rapidly moving entrepreneurial space, with round-the-clock communications, time zones be damned. How long and how hard one worked was a badge of honour. Lost evenings, lost sleep and lost social lives became the currency by which we valued our contributions.

Here’s the thing: Marketing is exciting. It’s sexy. It’s also stressful. So inherently stressful by nature that we needn’t pile on additional pressure through aggrandizing (sometimes even fetishizing) busyness. We know that no one produces their best work when they’re on the cusp of burnout. Mercifully, the industry is in the midst of a seismic shift.

CAMH has undertaken the world’s largest research study to identify the most effective workplace mental health solutions. You can download it here. The findings, in summary, show that workplaces can’t afford not to invest in strategies to create mentally healthier workplaces. The Harvard Business Review reported on a study that found that while 60 per cent of respondents experienced symptoms of mental illness that year, more than half (60%) never talked about their conditions at work. And when conversations around mental health did happen, less than half were described as positive. What’s more, less than half of respondents felt that mental health was prioritized at their company. The Harvard Business Review study also found that specific sub-populations were more open to talking about mental illness at work, specifically LGBTQ2S people, Millennials and Gen Z’s. We’re ready to change and we can’t afford to wait.

Mental illness costs the Canadian economy about $51 billion every year. The cost of disability leave for mental illness is about double the cost of a leave due to physical illness. While every employer across the country should have workplace mental health as a priority, we marketers are outstandingly important to changing the culture because we are very good at shaping opinions. It’s what we do.

This research study also built the foundation for CAMH to release its public policy framework on mental health in the workplace. CAMH is uniquely poised to lead this work, as we combine clinical care, research, education, policy development, and health promotion to improve outcomes for people living with mental illness. A public policy framework can help set out a set of procedures or goals to inform decisions and policies. But driving those decisions and policies is incumbent on all us of.


Sarah Chamberlin
Vice President, Marketing and Donor Experience
CAMH Foundation

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