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Mental Health and the Marketing Industry


 How can marketers cope with burnout and stress?

Burnout and feelings of being overwhelmed are not unusual. In fact, it's quite common, as WHO reported "approximately 10.7 percent of the worldwide population — 792 million people — have a mental health disorder. In the U.S., just prior to the pandemic, 1 out of 5 adults experienced a mental illness," as mentioned in ANA's Sustainability Collective page. 

Destigmatizing having feelings of stress, burnout, and other overwhelming emotions is necessary to creating a healthy environment, both personally and at work. Everyone deals with these feelings at some point, and having access to resources, wellness centers, and empathetic managers makes a significant difference in people's lives. And, of course, when people feel supported, company work culture is positively affected. 

ANA's Sustainability Collective posed these important questions for the industry as a whole, as a way to address fostering and promoting a supportive work culture:

"As marketers, how can we destigmatize mental health, promote wellness, and support a healthy mind and spirit, both for ourselves and society at large? As an industry, how do we manage burnout and lead with empathy to positively impact culture and drive performance? Is your brand or company making a difference?"

Michelle Peluso, EVP and chief customer officer at CVS Health and co-president of CVS Pharmacy, told ANA in an article that empathy is crucial for managers to foster at work, stating, "Empathy and inspiration were at the very core of the campaign. We understand that 'healthier' can not only feel extremely difficult at times but also that it looks different for everyone." (The CVS Health website has mental health awareness guides that can be downloaded here.)

This is especially pertinent for marketers during a challenging time where climate change, fast-paced technological changes, COVID-19, as well as cultural and economic issues create a perfect storm. Adweek compiled a list of ways to protect your mental health, with suggestions like setting realistic expectations, automating tasks when possible, setting boundaries (such as with notifications), and delegating.  

While many of these suggestions may seem like "common sense," it's easy to ignore our own needs when there are numerous deadlines, trends to understand, and meetings to attend. 

Below are resources on mental health in the marketing industry below. For more information on mental health and wellness, marketers can visit ANA's Sustainability Collective.


  • Stop Burnout: Why Micro-Habits Matter in Marketing. Forbes, May 2022.
    Marketers are facing more scrutiny than ever before. With an uncertain economic climate, rapid technology disruption, and changing consumer behavior, the role of marketing has never been more volatile. Marketers are often forced to do more with less and churn greater leads with less budget, resources, and smaller teams. It's no wonder marketing and communications professionals are seeing high burnout rates, with 83.3 percent reporting they are burned out.

    So, what are the common causes of burnout in marketing, and what can help empower marketers to be the best version of themselves? Azadeh Williams, Managing Partner of AZK Media, a global B2B agency, offers some practical examples for how marketers can use micro-habits to help manage burnout:
    • Identify and eliminate the "time-zappers"
    • Outsource to specialists
    • Take quality breaks
    • Make switching off accessible
  • Conductor CEO Opens Up About Mental Health. Search Engine Land, May 2022.
    During the past May's Mental Health Awareness Month, Seth Besmertnik, CEO of enterprise SEO platform Conductor, revealed his struggle with mental health with the goal to encourage his team to seek out help. And it's a message that everyone in the community should hear. Here are some highlights from Besmertnik's message:
    • "We all face our own demons."
    • "Professional support helps."
    • "We are not perfect; we never will be."
    • "[Therapy is] A powerful tool to navigate life."

Besmertnik shared the full message on LinkedIn. You can read it here.

  • How to Protect Your Mental Health as a Marketer in 2022. Adweek, January 2022.
    It's safe to say that 2021 wasn't quite the break we all wanted after 2020, and there's a somber feel already going into 2022. Many of us are exhausted, burnt out and lost trying to identify what the future looks like. If that resonates with you, know that you're not alone. You shouldn't have to sacrifice your mental health at the expense of your work. But so often we're told that the only true way to protect your sanity from the incessant negativity of social media and news is by "simply" unplugging. Cue laughter, right? It's possible to protect your mental health without unplugging and subjecting yourself to even more stress by wondering what you're missing. Here's how you can protect your mental health in 2022 while still maintaining your job as a marketer:
    • Audit your mental energy
    • Set realistic expectations
    • Outsource and automate
    • Be kind to yourself
  • Digital Marketing Burnout: How to Recognize the Signs and Overcome the Challenge. Thrive Global, October 2021.
    Running ads, updating social media accounts, creating content, writing, and responding to emails, and tracking marketing campaign results – it's safe to say that digital marketers always have their hands full every single day. While everything mentioned above is part of their job description, these tasks can often become too overwhelming, especially when they forget to take breaks in between. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many digital marketers.

    The constant pressure to go above and beyond their client's expectations can weigh them down, eventually leading to them putting in long hours, taking on more tasks than they can handle, and losing sleep. With that, they become more prone to extreme stress and burnout. If you're experiencing one of these, you may be at risk of experiencing burnout.

    When it happens, it can take a serious toll on a digital marketer's life. Roel Mahalin, content promotion specialist at SMB Compass, says, "If you're feeling the different signs and symptoms of burnout, take a step back and try to evaluate the things that have been keeping you on edge lately. Once you've identified the cause, try to develop different solutions to lessen or mitigate them." These include:
    • Structure your day
    • Talk to someone
    • Take some time off
    • Evaluate your options
  • The Ad Industry Needs to Address Mental Health Differently. Adweek, October 2021.
    While there is no blanket approach to mental health, agencies can work to support their staff on an individual basis while instituting a top-down approach to changing toxic company culture, according to agency insiders. If organizations want to optimize the well-being of their employees, mental health counselors stress that leadership must engage in healthy practices themselves while building trusting relationships with staff, establishing clear work boundaries, and addressing burnout before it happens. In a recent survey, Adweek asked marketers to reflect on the state of their mental health, the resources their companies provide, and what else they may need from their organizations to improve. Some of their responses are highlighted here:

The Marketing Knowledge Center actively connects ANA members to the resources they need to be successful. You can visit the ANA website to engage with the MKC in three ways.

  • Explore content to access best practices, case studies, and marketing tools. Our proprietary content includes Event Recaps, which share actionable insights from conference and committee presentations.
  • Connect with our Ask the Expert team in real time for customized answers to your specific marketing challenges.
  • Stay on top of trends with Marketing Futures Pulse issues, which explore how new technologies and innovations will affect marketers and consumers alike. 

Submit a request to Ask the Expert here.


"Mental Health and the Marketing Industry." ANA, 2022.