Men are three times more likely to commit suicide compared to women, and they are also less inclined to seek help and consistently report lower levels of life satisfaction at all ages compared to women, as indicated by one government wellbeing survey.
Here are eight key areas of focus for the C-suite:
1. Recognise that men are less likely to ask for help – whilst supporting all staff in managing their mental health
Time away from work is vital for wellbeing, but taking extra time off is often not a sufficient mental health solution because if workplace factors are not improved such as poor culture, employees will only return and experience the same feelings.
Ensure that your company’s culture is not harming the wellbeing of your employees.
2. Challenge and dismantle male stereotypes – We are more acutely aware of gender issues when we consider women in the workplace
But ‘Real men don’t cry’ and ‘man up’ and men ‘bringing home the bacon’ are still heard on a daily basis.
Avoid gender stereotypes of any kind and recognise we all have masculine and feminine in us whatever our gender.
Whilst it’s nice to ask, ‘How are you?’ and ‘Are you okay?’, this is likely to elicit an affirmative ‘I’m fine, thanks’ regardless of the truth. Especially with men
3. Invest in mental health and reap the rewards – We need to encourage men in the workplace to seek help for their mental health and to talk more about how they are feeling
Investing in mental health shows that you are dedicated to long-term employee care. A 2022 Deloitte report found employers receive a return of £5.30 on average for every £1 they invest in staff mental health.
Alternatively, the cost of new recruitment can average £30,000. Regular training (not one-off events) helps us spot the warning signs when someone is struggling and helps identify and provide support for vulnerable employees.
An external facilitator will enable an open and non-judgmental environment where everyone can voice their thoughts and concerns and reduce the fear of retribution.
We develop poor behaviour because either we have been taught to think negatively or we lack good influences. Having good male role models is incredibly important for men
4. Enable men to prioritise their own wellbeing – Men need to be compassionate, empathetic and good to others, but also to themselves
That’s why it is vital for men to be met with an understanding that they also experience difficulties, pain and anxiety.
5. Listen out for warning signs
Whilst it’s nice to ask, ‘How are you?’ and ‘Are you okay?’, this is likely to elicit an affirmative ‘I’m fine, thanks’ regardless of the truth. Especially with men.
If you suspect someone is struggling, asking them how you can help relieve their stress and offering them a deep listening ear can have a measurable impact. This calls for both empathy and sensitivity.
6. Replace the culture of machismo with open discussions about healthy masculinity
Organisations can do this by fostering an inclusive and safe culture where men feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable, and the more we do it the more it will be normalised. Ask men to tell you more and give them the space to process their emotions.
As with any gender or group, we need to be able to allow men to get support because ultimately the more empathy the better for the individual not to mention everyone in that business and therefore the bottom line
7. Acknowledge the unique needs and differences of men
We develop poor behaviour because either we have been taught to think negatively or we lack good influences. Having good male role models is incredibly important for men.
We also need to recognise that men and women engage differently with their mental and emotional wellbeing.
8. Be transparent, authentic and caring as a leader
The leadership hierarchy (if there is one) in healthy organisations is made up of those who understand their main role is to create an inclusive healthy culture so employees can get on with doing their jobs happily and healthily.
These leaders frequently check in on staff and provide managers with the confidence to recognise and address cultural problems affecting mental health including burnout, excessive hours, fear and overbearing demands and pressures.
Psychotherapist and men’s specialist coach Chris Hemmings said: “As with any gender or group, we need to be able to allow men to get support because ultimately the more empathy the better for the individual not to mention everyone in that business and therefore the bottom line. Everyone should be taken care of in the workplace, and everyone has a part to play”.
If you enjoyed this, read: Sustaining employees’ mental wellbeing