UK statistics show that 3 in 4 suicides are men and only 36% of NHS referrals for psychological therapies are men. Movember has also stated that, on average, men are dying 4.5 years earlier than women for largely preventable reasons.
That’s not all. Every 45 minutes, one man will die from prostate cancer, affecting 1 in 8 men throughout their lifetime.
The Movember movement has seen success in raising awareness about men’s health, but unfortunately, men are still reluctant to seek help. One study suggests that 20-40-year-old males seek help from their GP half as often as women the same age.
Vicky Walker, Group Director of People at workplace wellbeing services provider Westfield Health, provides advice on encouraging men to speak up this Movember.
How are men faring in the workplace?
Men clock up around 1.5 thousand hours a year in an office, working from home, or with their team on-site. As men are less likely to visit a GP or seek help for their mental health, it’s essential to understand how workplace culture and health support can protect men.
Presenteeism is yet another barrier affecting men in the workplace. Research shows that only 15% of men have taken time off due to mental health, compared to 40% for physical illness. Employers need to acknowledge that men do not just suffer from societal stigma but also self-stigma when it comes to discussing their health and emotions.
Crafting Compassionate Wellbeing Strategies to Tackle Men’s Mental Health
Last year, three-fifths (61%) of men claimed that their employer does not offer mental health support as a workplace benefit. As with many health issues, offering quick solutions that will solve concerns overnight is impossible. However, as an ethical employer, there are steps you should take to provide empathy and support to your team:
- Nurture an Open Workplace Culture
In any organisation, leading by example works best. Having leaders and people managers speak about their mental and physical wellbeing can help foster an open culture where people feel comfortable speaking up about their struggles. This will help to reduce discrimination and stigma around discussing men’s health and wellbeing.
- Provide Meaningful Health Initiatives
Consider offering wellbeing workshops and webinars on stress management, resilience and coping mechanisms. These can provide practical tools for employees to manage their mental health. Additionally, providing access to resources such as online mental health assessments or counselling services can further support employees in taking proactive steps towards their wellbeing.
- Invest in Mental Health First Aid Training
Certified Mental Health First Aid training is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment. Designate individuals within the organisation as mental health champions and ensure they receive continuous training to stay updated on the latest practices. Encourage these champions to host regular check-ins with teams, providing a safe space for employees to discuss their mental health concerns. This proactive approach can contribute to early intervention and destigmatise mental health conversations.
- Reboot the Focus on Physical Wellbeing
Employees spend most of their day at work, so implementing benefits such as gym discounts, cycle-to-work schemes, or even offering spaces in the office to work out will help employees focus on their health and fitness.
A renewed focus on physical health now goes beyond traditional incentives. Consider organising group activities or challenges promoting both physical activity and team bonding. This could include walking meetings, yoga, sports leagues or group fitness classes.
- Could Flexible Working Help?
If feasible within your business, flexible working patterns should be designed to accommodate diverse needs. This could involve flexible working hours, remote work options or compressed work weeks. Communicate clearly that taking advantage of these options will not impact career progression or opportunities. Managers should be educated on effectively managing remote teams and assessing performance based on outcomes rather than traditional office presence, fostering an inclusive and supportive work environment.
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.