MEETING MEn WhERE THEY'RE AT: MENTAL HEALtH IN THE WORKPLACE
Now more than ever, the concept of wellness is becoming more and more a hot topic of discussion. At this point, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to hear your Great Uncle Stan and Great Aunt Sheila talking about the importance of mental health and wellness - so that’s progress.
But, it’s important to remember that when it comes to men, just like women and everyone else in between, there are unique and diverse needs that have to be met. Where this becomes challenging is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Not for women, not for men, not for anyone. Because these groups aren’t homogenised entities it’s impossible to provide a single solution, however, there are certain commonalities that can be covered as a place to start.
Recognising different factors of commonality is key. Some men are more than willing to get together for a group therapy session to talk about their feelings in a safe space, for others that might sound like hell on earth, the important thing to note is that both responses to this situation are valid, so it’s important for employers – amplifying the need for varies types of support. Some men don’t seek out therapy, others self-medicate and some put on a strong face but are struggling on the inside. This isn’t to say that this type of struggle is unique to men, only that they’re an important element of the mental health discussion.
For employers, a lot of the time, money talks – and the only way you can get them to care about their employees’ mental well-being is to prove that it’s cost-effective, which thankfully, it is! Research has shown that men and women who are engaged in their work are 87% more likely to stay with their place of work, and as any business can tell you – hiring is notoriously difficult and expensive. On top of this, men tend to be more likely than women to self-medicate than women, so when put into stressful situations, their mental ill health can lead to physical addictions. Nowadays more than half of the people name a positive workplace culture as one of the most important things they look for when searching for a new role.
Long story short for employers, more happy employees = less turnover.
The Human Touch: Personal Connections Matter
We all love a webinar, right! Right? …right. Anyway, whilst webinars and video-conferencing events absolutely can be valuable sources of information; as humans, we crave connection. Managers and colleagues play a vital role in increasing understanding of mental health. It can be incredibly impactful to challenge common myths and tropes that we think to be true about all men – this helps foster a more inclusive and supportive work environment. The value of human-to-human interactions cannot be overstated – regular check-ins with a supportive manager who is invested in their direct reports’ personal development makes a significant difference. These interactions and meetings can provide a sense of belonging and support.
Issues surrounding food, body image and self-harm are becoming a less taboo subject of conversation, however, men are oftentimes less likely to be involved in such discussions. Being more open about these types of struggles is crucial, as it’s believed that the number of men dealing with eating disorders is higher than commonly believed and men report higher levels of depressive symptoms and suicidal tendencies. By openly addressing these issues, employers can create a safe space for men to seek help and support.
Creating an inclusive workplace that supports the mental health of male employees requires a collective effort. By acknowledging the unique challenges that men can face and providing tailored resources to different types of people, employers can foster a positive work environment where all employees can thrive. It’s not about creating a one-size-fits-all solution, it’s meeting different types of men where they’re at.