Mental Health Risks For Men
Let’s start with some statistics; 75% of all suicides are male, yet only 25% of all those treated for a mental health condition are male. What causes this discrepancy? WHO suggest that men are often less likely to seek help but even when they do, established unconscious bias means that doctors are less likely to diagnose men with depression and anxiety than women, even where their symptoms are identical.
Men and Wellbeing
Just typing men’s wellbeing in the search engine tells you so much already. I find an Australian project, Common Ground, inviting men to a 9 week programme of self-discovery in nature, asking the questions, who are we & what are we doing here? Next comes a site targeting men’s’ sexual health and options for treatment, followed by the UK Men’s Health Forum promoting Men’s Health Week, 13 – 16 June.
So, my first lesson learnt is that men’s wellbeing is subject to cultural definition. Where you are in the world will impact on how you experience wellbeing or lack of it. Second is the wide spectrum between addressing the challenge of sexual performance and that of existential meaning.
Men’s Experience of Stress at Work
The Men’s Health Week campaign appears to find middle ground, by asking the question, what makes you stressed? Followed by what pushes your buttons? What I like here is the invitation to get to know oneself better, and to take responsibility for what is right for you. We are all different.
As a man myself, and one seemingly atypical of most male health markers, I’d like to suggest that there is a lot more at play than gender. My sense is that what defines who we are is more complex and subtle. I invite you to the concept of non-binary approaches to human diversity, where the hard edges of male and female characteristics are thrown up in the air and land very differently to our current understanding. I invite you to consider our shared humanity, and all that connects us, when making sense of how our identity, gender and culture define our experience of wellbeing. Whatever pushes your stress buttons is for you to identify, in the full knowledge that you have the innate ability to make yourself well, to learn the necessary skills to manage the challenges that come your way.
How Can Businesses Help?
And what can employers do to support men to address stress and wellbeing?
They can start by making sure their managers are doing the following:
- Have an awareness of how different team members respond to stress.
- Asking the right questions at the right times.
- Using empathy and respect when discussing mental health issues at work.
- Actively listening
- Able to signpost individuals to different support systems both in the workplace and outside
- Proactively addressing conflict and initiating difficult conversations with empathy
Clearly managing workplace wellbeing involves a raft of managerial skills (attentive listening, conflict resolution, coaching) that can be acquired and practised with a trainee-centred training programme.