Supporting men’s health at work
According to the Men’s Health Forum, men spend far more of their lives in the workplace than women, and are twice as likely to work full time. Is it a coincidence then that, generally, men develop many serious illnesses earlier than women? An astonishing one-in-five male colleagues will die before they’re old enough to retire.
With regard to men’s mental health, it is a concern that many cases go unreported. If we explore some of the signs that may indicate a clearer picture of the state of men’s mental health, they tell us that:
- Three times as many men as women die by suicide
- Men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK
- Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women.
While there is no one size fits all, it’s good to remember that often men’s health, whether that be mental or physical, starts in the workplace and often the problem with men’s health is not a result of their lack of interest, it’s about them having access to the right health support, at the right time and expressed in the right way.
Nine ways to support men’s health in the workplace
1. Consider nominating a male ‘champion’ at work to build awareness of men’s health issues
2. Use relevant awareness days (including Movember, Men’s Health Week and International Men’s Day and Suicide Awareness Day) to highlight men’s mental health issues internally
3. Events don’t always have to be health related to help raise awareness and encourage open conversations. A non-alcoholic beer tasting for Dry January or a workplace running club could be a great way to subtly encourage a healthier lifestyle and also offer some downtime from work
4. Create a culture where it’s ok to not be ok and get the conversation going. You could conduct a survey to find out what your male employees are struggling with, and what extra guidance and support may be welcomed
5. Encourage all staff to have flexibility over their working hours. This could allow the opportunity to attend health checks, medical appointments both virtually and in-person, and access health and wellbeing programmes
6. Engage male staff with health checks and programmes and consider bringing the notion of MOT’s to the workplace. Encouraging men to think about health checks as MOT’s for the body could help to encourage them and normalise the situation, and organisations such as the Stroke Association can do in-office blood pressure checks
7. Encourage senior employees to share their experiences of accessing support for health issues – particularly in regard to mental health
8. Direct employees towards trusted sources of information on male health, and highlight available support, for instance, Employee Assistance Programmes
9. Update existing Equality and Diversity policies to ensure they make adequate provision for men’s health