Support Men’s mental health in the work place

Work and the workplace have a significant impact on the mental health of employees — either positively or negatively.

There are many things impacting everyone’s mental health currently, including social anxiety from returning to work, social isolation from remote working and winter and SAD. But, more generally here are some things that might be impacting your male colleagues.

Don’t men suffer from depression and other mental health issues? Yes they do, but rarely are they given the space or the sensitivity to talk about it. The cultural expectation for them to be strong, stoic and unrelenting puts undue pressure on them to have it together at all times.

Among men, depression is often unrecognised and untreated. Men employed in male-dominated industries and occupations may be particularly vulnerable.

How often have you seen men openly discuss their mental health at work? Probably, not very often. But does that mean they’re coping with it better? No. Is it easy to disregard your mental health just because you are a man?

Societal pressure: there’s still an expectation for men to provide for themselves and their families and any issues with their mental health could be seen as them being weak.

Did you know, the biggest killer of men aged 18–45 in the UK is suicide. It’s a shocking statistic and one that we all have a part to play in tackling. A key place to start is the workplace. A recent survey of 15,000 employees across 30 organisations conducted by Mind shows that men are twice as likely to have mental health problems due to their job, compared to problems outside of work. In fact, 32 per cent of those asked attributed poor mental health to their job.

Recent years have seen increasing interest in men’s health, including mental health and wellbeing. There is growing recognition of the prevalence and implications of depression among men . Although women have higher overall rates of depression, it is frequently unrecognized, undiagnosed, and untreated among men

In this civilized society, both men and women have different roles to play. Several researchers have stated that there is a silent crisis in the mental health of men.

The research on men’s mental health shows how distress manifests differently in men than women, and how they cope with stress differs as well. Men are far less likely to seek help for mental health challenges, irrespective of age, nationality, or ethnic or racial background. More often than not, the demotivator is driven by gender-related barriers and stigmas.

Women in general always find it easier to talk about their issues and problems so discussing mental health challenges is easier for them. Society and culture, in fact, are the main culprit that forces men to hide their emotions and weakness.

Men’s Mental Health at Work

The state of a person’s mental health has serious consequences — not only in day-to-day life, but also at work. It impacts factors like employee productivity, performance, and motivation. While there are many personal factors that can influence someone’s mental state, the workplace can be an incredibly triggering environment.

Factors that can contribute to poor mental health at work

  • Lack of clarity about job role and responsibilities
  • Inadequate resources, tools, and training
  • Work overload and pressure to meet targets
  • Job insecurity
  • Long working hours
  • Bullying
  • Frequent switching of tasks
  • Over expectation from Boss
  • Job threatening from management
  • Poor communication with colleagues and management
  • Unable to cope-up with fast changing workplace situations
  • Lack of control and exclusion from decision-making

Whether they’re at work, or outside of it, distress in men can often show up in behaviors such as:

  1. Distraction: Binge-watching shows, excessive time on devices or video gaming, spending endless hours at work or over-investing at work, diminished work performance, difficulty concentrating and completing tasks on time.
  2. Escaping: More frequent and heavy drinking (especially alone), binge eating and over-investing in indulgent activities.
  3. Withdrawal: Not joining the team for lunches or post-work social activities, eating alone, avoiding social contact with friends and family, taking an excessive number of sick days.
  4. Externalization : Low impulse-control, high irritability, snapping at and getting frustrated with colleagues, showing anger, and portraying anti-social behaviors towards others.

During a one-on-one with your male employee, open the door to a vulnerable conversation. If you’re a male manager, it is all the more important to set the example. Show acceptance and vulnerability by sharing the impact of your own life and work challenges on your emotional state.

Please feel free to share your story and any lessons you learned, experienced, you came across in your life in the comments below. If you enjoyed this or any other posts, I’d be honored if you’d share them with your family, friends, and followers!

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Prawin is a Agile Delivery Manager at Medloop Ltd. London. Accomplished leader with over 15 years of a successful career in Agile & DevOps Transformation.

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Prawin is a Agile Delivery Manager at Medloop Ltd. London. Accomplished leader with over 15 years of a successful career in Agile & DevOps Transformation.