A PRCA industry survey, found that as many as one in three industry professionals has suffered from mental ill health and that more than 60 per cent of respondents would feel "not very comfortable" or "very uncomfortable" discussing their problem in the workplace, with a manager or colleague.
Nikki da Costa, managing director of the public affairs training and mentoring consultancy Nikki da Costa & Associates has launched the fund pledging 10 per cent of the annual profits from her company to it.
The fund brings together the Institute of Psychoanalysis with the support of both the PRCA and the APPC, and the money will be used to subsidise an initial consultation for up to ten public affairs practitioners under the age of 35 each year, for as long as it is needed.
The subsidy dramatically reduces the cost of an initial consultation with a psychoanalyst at the Institute and will give people an opportunity to talk to a professional about what has brought them there, as well as get a taste of whether this is the correct form of treatment for them.
Explaining why she had set up the fund, da Costa who has worked for Bellenden, in-house at Serco and at Weber Shandwick in a public affairs capacity, said she wanted to help others access professional support and explained how she had struggled with bouts of depression during her student years and early career.
She said: "There are two narratives I can tell you about my career. One is that I went to Oxford, [got a] first-class degree, worked for a senior Conservative MP, earned my stripes at Weber Shandwick, [got] poached by Serco government relations and then [moved] on to Bellenden.
But there’s another narrative too: A struggle in my GCSE years with depression and again during university, as well as the early years of my career. I don’t tell that story unless someone comes to me and tells me "I’m struggling". And only then do I give them that version. I’m very lucky in that my mother is a psychoanalyst... and yet it was still hard to say ‘I need help. Mum, I’m struggling, can you find me a therapist’."
Penny Crick, clinical director at the Institute of Psychoanalysis said: "There is an awful lot which goes on in our minds that is not easily available to conscious thought and as a treatment, psychoanalysis aims to try to help those feelings become conscious, because if you know what’s driving those dysfunctional patterns then you can begin to think about them. If they’re working away outside of your consciousness, you can’t think about them, but if you think about them then you can overcome the likelihood of just repeating these patterns."