My favourite quote of this issue came from Sandy Law. At very late notice, Sandy agreed to join the Brain Trust panel, which tackles the timely topic of mental health and well-being in the architecture profession.
When I first began thinking about this editorial, the world was observing World Mental Health Day (10 October). By the time I got around to putting fingers to keyboard, it was during the week that Kanye West cancelled the remainder of his current tour and was admitted to a psychiatric facility, reportedly for stress and exhaustion.
When someone who features as prominently on the world stage as West is announced as having issues with mental health, it’s clear it’s no longer something in the shadows – only ever whispered about or mentioned obliquely.
In the architecture profession, mental health is receiving some welcome attention with several studies (from such bodies as The Architects’ Journal and the University of Toronto) plus the valuable work from Australia’s own Parlour, underlining how the long working hours common in the industry can lead to multiple issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Our lead interview this issue is with Charles Wright, who says the biggest challenge of his career at the moment is that he spends much of his working life travelling between Far North Queensland and Victoria, and so is often away from family. To counteract the effects of this, when he is at home in Port Douglas, he tries to finish work by six and not work on weekends, so that he can spend time with his wife and children.
Elsewhere in the magazine, Penny Craswell ponders not only the mental health effects of working long hours of overtime, but the actual ethics of such practices – how those unwilling or unable to do so are also affected.
And our aforementioned Brain Trust discuss some of the ways their individual practices have confronted the issue head-on, with recommendations for internal counselling services, reflective practices, staff get-togethers and regular workplace health checks.
Oh yes and of course there was that lovely quote from Sandy… “When all else fails get a dog. We did. His name is Jimmy.”
Look after yourselves. And each other.