Supporting your male employees’ mental health this International Men’s Day

working parent stressed, mental health

Article provided by Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage

While mental health struggles can impact anyone regardless of gender, there has been a notable mental health crisis amongst men in recent years.

Data from the ONS has found that men accounted for three-quarters of suicide deaths registered in 2019, hitting a two-decade high in England and Wales. Despite this, men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women; only 35 per cent of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.

Businesses have a duty of care to all their employees, including supporting male employees’ mental health. This International Men’s Day, it’s vital to tackle male mental health in your workplace. If left unaided, it can have a huge impact on businesses, with mental health problems in the UK costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year, according to the Mental Health Foundation.

Here are some effective ways to ensure an inclusive workplace which supports your male employees’ mental wellbeing:

Create a supportive culture

A huge barrier for men’s mental health is the societal perception that they can’t speak about their emotions nor ask for help. However, this is a key part of building strong and healthy mental wellbeing. To help men speak up more, it’s crucial to create a company culture where they feel comfortable enough to open up and seek help if they need to.

This means tackling the stigma of mental health in your workplace and building processes and support systems for those who want help. Communication is a huge part of this. Encourage managers to regularly check in on employees, especially if working from home. Another tactic is to develop support networks for those who need it, allowing them a safe space to talk.

Offer wellbeing benefits

Looking after all aspects of an employees’ wellbeing can positively impact their mental health. For example, when an employee is struggling with personal finances, it can trigger a great deal of stress, or when he doesn’t exercise regularly, his mood can take a downturn.  A benefits scheme that can help employees with the five pillars of wellbeing (physical, mental, social, financial, and digital) can help employees maintain a healthy lifestyle and goes a long way towards positive mental wellbeing.

A fully formed wellbeing benefits scheme should also help employees access the mental health services they need. Including an employee assistance programme within your benefits scheme lets your employee use phone, email, and face-to-face counselling services, 24/7, 365 days a year. Providing these services could greatly improve your employees’ access to the mental health support they need, avoiding long waiting lists, but without the cost of private care.

Provide mental health training

Prevention is always better than cure, so it’s important to provide the education and training needed to spot those who could be struggling. Managers can be given training on what signs to look out for and how to broach conversations with their teams about mental health struggles.

If businesses are looking to go one step further, mental health first aiders can be a fantastic asset to a company. These employees can be trained on how to help spot someone developing a mental health problem, experiencing the worsening of an existing issue, or having in a mental health crisis. Having an informed person in your workplace can help tackle the problems arising and help those men who may be struggling.

As pressures mount and the pandemic continues, many men may feel the need to ‘man up’ and ignore the stress and strain they are under. But these are unprecedented times and businesses must be there to support all employees with their mental wellbeing struggles, helping them come out the other side, healthier and happier.

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