According to research conducted by Mind in 2017, men are more likely to experience work-related mental health problems than women. In their study, one in three men attributed their mental health to work, compared to one in five women. The question here, however, should not be who is more stressed, but should rather ask who is seeking help for their mental health conditions.
Mental Health In Men: The Statistics
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, 26% of all adults in America (which is about 1 in 4 adults) struggles with a diagnosable mental health disorder. As expected though, mental health affects men and women differently. This is because, due to the stigma surrounding mental health problems in men, they are less likely to take time off and seek help than women.
According to an article published on Forbes, about 800,000 people globally take their own life every year. About 500,000, or 75% of these, are men. The article also cites the Movember study which suggests that 34% of men in the United States believe their jobs would be at risk if they discussed their mental health at work.
Research by Mind (a charity based in the UK) suggests that only 31% of men feel that they can talk about their mental health at work, and about 29% will take time off to seek help. This is starkly different from the 38% of women who feel welcomed to talk about their mental health at work, of which 43% take time off.
Overall, these findings suggest that although men and women may have mental health conditions, men are less likely to take time off from work. Men are also more likely to feel like they cannot talk about their mental health conditions while at work - with 36% of American men believing they will not get the promotion if they are struggling to cope.
Encouraging Men’s Mental Health At Work
The statistics above confirm that men generally do not feel supported at work. This is, in part, due to the taboo surrounding mental health. Below, we provide some ways in which you can encourage mental health at work.
- Lead by example
One way in which the workplace can go about destigmatizing mental health is for senior management to lead by example. This means that top employees and management staff should be open about their mental health, stress levels, and anxieties in the workplace. If managers are seeing a therapist, and if they are happy to let others know about it, they can let other members of staff, especially junior staff, know about it. This makes getting help for mental health conditions slightly easier, breaking the barrier between people who know they need help and those who actually get help. Management should also support other members of staff to get help for mental health conditions.
- Encourage time off for mental health
Some days are just off days in terms of mental health. For these days, employers can encourage time off, and where possible, include mental health days in their benefits scheme. Taking this time off will encourage employees to manage their mental health conditions rather than brush them off. If gone unchecked, mental health conditions can leave employees with feelings of stress and burnout which will soon begin to manifest into troubles eating and sleeping, which is further associated with physical conditions.
- Offer anonymous self-care solutions
For some employees, getting help with their mental health is not as straightforward as providing them with a safe space to talk and encouraging time off. For example, there may be cultural differences that may prevent them from getting any help. For these employees, it would be ideal for them to have anonymous self-care solutions such as CBT training and mindfulness sessions offered through an app. This could be a stepping stone to better health which can then be topped up with in-person sessions if and when needed.
- Include a health coach in your wellness plan
A wellness plan with an inbuilt health coach may also help some employees better manage their mental health. This could be another stepping stone for employees who believe they need help but aren’t sure of the professional setting that a therapist offers. With a health coach, employees will be able to get some form of support from a trained health coach, who will become a friend. This friendship can help guide employees to better management of stress, anxieties, and insecurities. If the employee is confident of this help that is available, they can continue to reap the benefits. If at any point the employee believes they need more help, they can look towards a therapist. Learn more about the hidden benefits of including health coaches in your workplace wellness plans in this infographic.
- Ask employees how to help them best
This is often an underappreciated way to help employees with their mental health. If you are unsure about how to help your employees, consider asking them how they think they can be helped and supported rather than assuming ways in which they will accept your help. It may be that the employee needs a couple of days off work, or needs a therapist. Some employees may not know what form of support helps them. In this case, be open to some trial and error that the employee is open to. In any case, because every employee is different and possibly needs different forms of help and support, asking them is often the best way to really help them manage their mental health problems.