Movember is here with the important task of increasing awareness surrounding men’s health issues – including suicide prevention. In September 2022, it was found the highest suicide rates each year have been in males aged 45-64 highlighting the importance of this month.
Employers need to be aware of the demographics that need the most support when considering their health and wellbeing strategies. Debra Clark, head of specialist consulting at Towergate Health & Protection, says:
This figure may be surprising to many employers who would be forgiven for thinking suicide is more common in younger people. It seems that there may be an ‘invisible’ group of men in the later stages of their careers who are suffering and in need of support.
What is Movember?
Movember involves the growing of moustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues. The aim is to increase knowledge regarding male cancers and to start conversations about men’s mental health. Movember is an ideal opportunity for employers to encourage open discussions among all employees of all ages about mental health issues.
What is the “invisible” group?
This invisible demographic falls somewhere between generation X (age 42 – 57) and baby boomers (age 58 – 76). Men at this age often face a combination of challenges including being in a sandwich of caring responsibilities for children and older relatives. Relationship issues and divorce often happen at this stage, as do increased financial concerns surrounding mortgages, retirement and caring for others. At the ages of 45 to 64, some men will be dealing with chronic or major illness, and many will begin to have a sense of their own mortality.
What can employers do to help?
- Initiate an open discussion and encourage conversation regarding mental health. This not only raises awareness of the issues but also helps to remove any stigma.
- Communicate existing relevant benefits, such as an employee assistance programme (EAP). This is a good option for signposting employees to places for support and EAPs may also offer counselling sessions.
- Concerns about physical health can lead to a great deal of anxiety. Employers can offer access to virtual GPs, along with health screening and second-opinion services. Boosting physical health can also help to boost mental health, so benefits like a gym membership are beneficial.
- Money worries are also likely to impact mental health so financial education can be very important for this stage of life, including retirement planning, will writing, and funeral planning.
- Specific mental health support is also available via talking therapies and cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT) to counselling and psychiatrist-led treatments.
- Employers should consider the neurodiversity of their employees and offer a range of ways for assistance to be accessed. This is likely to be a combination of face-to-face and online approaches, to suit the requirements of all personality types.
Debra Clark concludes:
Suicide is preventable. If nothing else this Movember, encourage employees to ask each other the question: ‘How are you?’, and then ask again: ‘No, how are you really?’.
Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.