Shawmind is on a mission to improve the mental health of young people across the UK. This Men’s Mental Health Week, we want to highlight the importance of men’s mental health at work.
1 in 8 men in England will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lives. Many men struggle to open up to their peers about their mental health struggles.
If you’re an employer and are interested in providing better mental health support in your workplace, consider our workplace mental health training. If you want to learn how to improve men’s mental health in the workplace, read on.
What are some mental health issues that can affect men at work?
Men can experience a range of mental issues in the workplace. Some of these can be due to personal circumstances, while some can relate to circumstances in the workplace. Some of these mental health issues include:
- Work-related stress
- Substance abuse
- Imposter syndrome
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anger management issues
- Sleep disorders
- Social isolation and loneliness
- Low self-esteem
- Relationship difficulties
- Emotional exhaustion
- Chronic fatigue
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Mood swings
These feelings can be due to social pressure on men to earn more, and with the rising economic pressures in the UK, these issues could rise significantly. It is our aim to raise awareness so workplaces are well equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to provide effective mental health support for men in the workplace.
How do you tell if a male employee is struggling mentally?
It is commonly known that men often withhold their feelings and struggle to open up about their mental health. This can make it particularly difficult to identify which men in the workplace are struggling with mental health problems. Here are some indicators that may suggest a male employee is experiencing poor mental health:
- Noticeable changes in behaviour, such as increased irritability, mood swings, or withdrawal from social interactions.
- Decreased productivity or performance issues that are inconsistent with their usual work standards.
- Frequent absences or tardiness without valid explanations.
- Expressing feelings of fatigue, exhaustion, or lack of motivation.
- Increased reliance on substances like alcohol or drugs.
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
- Noticeable changes in appearance or personal hygiene.
- Social isolation and a reluctance to engage in workplace activities.
- Expressing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness.
- Sudden weight loss or gain.
- Increased instances of unexplained physical complaints, such as headaches or stomach aches.
Mental health training and education for managers and leaders
It’s important to approach these observations with empathy and sensitivity. If you suspect a male employee may be struggling, a mental-health trained member of staff should approach the individual on a 1-1 basis, and support should be given if possible. Remember, an employee cannot be forced to disclose their mental health to the organisation, so if the person is unwilling to open up, don’t force the issue.
If you want to improve mental health in the workplace, it is important to have a mental health trained staff member on site. Check out our workplace mental health training courses.
Create a supportive workplace environment
Workplaces should make a conscious effort to create an inclusive environment and tackle the mental health stigma. It is important to encourage open communication and for staff members to support each other and look out for each other’s mental wellbeing.
These positive workplace relationships can be developed through fun workplace do’s and activities that foster and develop friendships, so men feel more comfortable opening up to their peers.
Employees should also undergo workplace mental health awareness courses to understand signs of poor mental health in themselves and their colleagues, and know the workplace’s roadmap of who to share their concerns with if they are worried about their own or a colleague’s wellbeing.
Senior team should lead by example
When it comes to male mental health, destigmatising is key. Men may often feel weak if they open up about their mental health, however, if they see other men doing it, our experience suggests that they are then more likely to confide in someone about their own mental health struggles.
This is why it is important for leaders and managers to openly prioritise mental health and well-being, demonstrating that it is valued within the organisation. This encourages employees to follow suit and take their mental health seriously. In fact, mental wellbeing should be baked into the organisation’s strategy, so that it flows into everything the organisation does.
Offer flexible working arrangements
Since its rise in popularity due to the pandemic, it has been reported that hybrid working improved the mental health of some employees. Not only is this beneficial to employees, who get to stay at home with their families, exercise, practice self-care and get efficient sleep, it also benefits companies due to increased productivity as mental wellbeing increases.
Encourage a good work-life balance
A toxic attitude to work-life balance can severely negatively impact the mental health of employees. Male employees are particularly susceptible to being overworked due to social attitudes towards male work ethic and the pressures of men to be successful breadwinners, which can lead to intense stress.
It is essential for companies to promote a healthy work life balance and ensure employees aren’t working too much. It is important to foster positive attitudes towards hobbies and personal commitments, so employees can look after their mental health.
Be inclusive and reject toxic masculinity
It is important for companies to recognise that men come in different shapes and sizes, with varying interests and hobbies! Narrow attitudes towards men can often constrict their personality and can lead to mental ill health conditions.
Part of men’s mental health week is to raise awareness around toxic standards of masculinity and how this can impact the mental health of men. Here are some examples of toxic masculinity in the workplace that can negatively impact men:
- Suppression of emotions
- Male “banter” which can border on bullying
- Stigmatisation of seeking help
- Workaholic culture
- Narrow definitions of success
- Dismissal of work-life balance
- Macho culture
- Lack of support for work-family integration
- Sexual / gender, racial, religious, intellectual, socio-economic or cultural discrimination
- Strong drinking culture / substance abuse
Workplaces should tackle aspects of toxic masculinity and ensure that all men feel included in the workplace. If a guy doesn’t want to go for a beer after work, or prioritises his family commitments over staying late, he should not feel ashamed or demasculinised.
It is important to consider all aspects of masculinity and ensure everyone feels included and valued.
Provide male mental health resources
Employers can consistently forward male mental health resources to all employees that may be educational and informative, and useful to break down stigma. These can help improve male mental health and wellbeing at work and make men feel that their mental wellbeing is valued in the workplace.
Ensuring the conversation around mental health is consistent and ongoing fosters an environment that is mental health positive, which allows men to feel more comfortable to speak about their mental health issues.
Recognise their achievements and efforts
Everyone likes to feel valued in the workplace. We encourage workplaces to celebrate employee’s accomplishments and acknowledge their efforts to promote a positive work atmosphere. Recognising their value and contributions can boost morale and well-being.