How to support men’s mental health at work

In today’s fast-paced and demanding work environments, it is crucial to prioritize mental health. It impacts productivity, team morale, and the overall culture of the business. But it’s important to remember that, when dealing with mental health, we’re dealing with individuals.

While society has come a long way in terms of understanding and recognising mental health in the last few years, there’s still a lot of stigma attached to talking about it, especially at work, and especially for men.

Men face both internal and external stigma about showing their emotions or talking about their level of anxiety, low mood, and stress. This comes from the often-unconscious masculine ideals that have been culturally assimilated into ‘being a man’.

Men are expected to be assertive, ambitious, independent, self-reliant, in control, and perhaps most damaging of all: strong. Many men, if faced with a mental health issue, consider themselves to be failing to deal with it, leaving them with only one conclusion: that they must be weak.

As a result, taking the time to think deeply about their feelings often causes anxiety in men, as it can lead to the realisation that they may not match society’s, or their own, definition of masculinity.

Stress and anxiety are a part of work, and a part of the human experience. But many men have been trained to view these normal emotions as bad, as a sign of weakness, something to be ashamed of. This leaves many men unable to process or talk about difficult feelings, instead repressing them, or only expressing them as anger.

When men bottle up their feelings, a negative cycle begins that impacts both mental and physical health. The longer they wait to address them, the harder it is to deal with those emotions.

If they have a history of anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses, those emotions may intensify and turn into long-term mental health challenges. 

According to one study, work is the biggest cause of mental health issues for men.

As men’s mental health has so often been overlooked or stigmatized, the importance of creating supportive workplaces where they feel able to talk about mental health cannot be overstated.

In this blog post, we will explore various strategies to protect men’s mental wellbeing in the workplace. From effective communication and tackling stigma to cultivating work-life balance and stress reduction practices, let’s delve into the key aspects of supporting men’s mental health at work.

How businesses can help men with their mental health

Open Communication: 

Many men feel reluctant to confide in their employer about their mental health. Encouraging open and non-judgmental communication is vital.

Managers should promote an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns without fear of repercussions and instead know that they will be supported.

Talking about how you’ve found help from others or even professionals, normalises the idea for your team members, and encourages them to express their own emotions.

Regular check-ins, confidential support systems, and accessible resources can foster a culture of trust, making it easier for men to seek help and support when needed.  

Addressing the stigma: 

No matter how well equipped your staff are to talk about mental health, it is unlikely to be put to use if people fear the stigma of being honest and revealing their problems.

Raising awareness through educational initiatives, workshops, and internal campaigns can help dispel myths and misconceptions around mental health.

Placing mental health and wellbeing at the heart of the company processes, policies, and values, and promoting a culture that values mental health as an integral part of overall wellbeing all help normalise and build understanding, creating a psychologically safe environment. 

Empowering Managers: 

Well-trained and empathetic managers play a pivotal role in supporting men’s mental health.

Providing managers with training on recognizing signs of distress, active listening, and appropriate response can help them create a safe and understanding environment and feel empowered when talking about mental health with their teams.

Encouraging managers to lead by example in prioritizing self-care and work-life balance sets a positive tone for the entire team. 

Promoting General Wellbeing Practices: 

Incorporating general wellbeing practices into the workplace is beneficial for everyone, including men.

Encourage regular exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep to boost physical and mental resilience.

Consider offering wellness programs, mindfulness sessions, or access to counselling services to provide comprehensive support for mental wellbeing. 

Stress Reduction Strategies: 

High levels of stress can take a toll on men’s mental health.

Introduce stress reduction initiatives such as flexible working arrangements, realistic goal-setting, and time management training.

Encourage breaks, provide relaxation spaces, and promote stress-management techniques like deep breathing exercises or meditation. Foster a supportive atmosphere where stress is acknowledged and managed effectively. 

Training and Development Opportunities: 

Investing in professional growth and development can have a positive impact on men’s mental health.

Providing training opportunities, mentorship programs, and career advancement support helps employees feel valued, motivated, and engaged. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and a sense of fulfilment, benefiting their mental wellbeing. 

Creating a workplace that supports men’s mental health requires a multifaceted approach. By fostering open communication, challenging stigma, empowering managers, promoting general wellbeing practices, implementing stress reduction strategies, and emphasizing work-life balance, employers can lay the foundation for a mentally healthy workforce.

Let us work together to build supportive environments that prioritize men’s mental wellbeing, enabling them to thrive both professionally and personally. 

Remember, supporting men’s mental health is a collective effort that benefits individuals, organizations, and society as a whole. Together, we can make a difference! 

Read more about protecting mental health at work, or learn about why it’s important for businesses to protect mental health.

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Posted on: 16th June 2023