Mental health issues continue to rise in creative industries

NABS is urging the industry to put improving collective mental wellness first

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director Creativebrief


Emotional support and financial support topped the reasons for calls to NABS’ advice line in 2022. 

Data from the industry charity revealed that the burnout epidemic is continuing to bite. Calls to NABS’ Advice line rose by 35% year on year and mental health calls rose by 31% year on year, signalling the industry's mental health steeply rising challenge 

The data underlines the challenges facing an industry increasingly struggling with emotional and financial worries as the cost of living, combined with greater economic uncertainty, hit together last year.  

The industry charity reveals today that calls for its services increased by almost half (49%) in 2022 as people working in media, marketing and advertising clamoured for help. This increase made 2022 NABS’ busiest year since 2018. 

To thrive in these times, we need to put conversations and action about improving our collective mental wellness at the heart of what we do.

Sue Todd, CEO, NABS

The burnout epidemic 

Calls to NABS’ Advice Line increased by 35% year on year, with the top two reasons for contact being emotional support (37%) and financial support (36%).  

Mental health issues continue to rise in the industry. Two thirds (66%) of all of emotional support calls received in 2022 were for support and guidance on mental health – a 31% increase year on year.   

According to NABS, the rising cost of living crisis, together with worries about the geopolitical climate, the job market and increasing stress and conflict at work, are all contributing factors towards this rise in need for advice and support around improving mental wellness.  

In line with this, NABS therapy referrals rose by 32% year on year. A shift which underlines the need for a shift from ‘wellness washing’ to providing tangible support to people across adland.  

The impact of redundancy 

Redundancy resurged as a notable topic for NABS service users in 2022 after a drop-off in this area during 2021. Against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis and looming recession, last year saw a staggering 1432% increase in access to NABS’ online redundancy guides, offering advice on redundancy rights to thousands of people.  

Last year, NABS reached more than 16,500 people across its services, events, inductions and online support, an increase of 13%.  Meanwhile, accessibility to NABS’ services continued to widen, including its 24/7 support service, with around half of the charity’s advice now accessed online. 

Sue Todd, CEO, NABS, explained: “Our sector has always been at the forefront of technological, societal and economic change, meaning our people’s exposure to uncertainty and the need to change quickly can add extra pressure. To thrive in these times, we need to put conversations and action about improving our collective mental wellness at the heart of what we do. This year, NABS will work harder than ever with our industry to create and strengthen the relationships and tools we need to help advance the mental wellness of ourselves and our teams, and to help people and organisations join the dots between issues and best practice. Although every individual’s challenges are different, our most effective response is collective.” 

Simon Daglish, chair, NABS and deputy MD of commercial, ITV plc, added: “In response to the various and complex challenges faced by our industry, NABS will develop and launch an even wider range of services to help as many people as possible. We’ll be more responsive than ever, offering new training targeted at middle managers, including group learning sessions designed to help teams with immediate and live issues. NABS can’t do any of its vital work without the support of our industry, so I encourage everybody to get involved, whether that’s by donating, sponsoring, fundraising, mentoring or coming to one of NABS’ events.” 

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Mental Health