We've all got much better at talking about male mental health. The stigma is not what it once was, with campaigns like Movember and the Mental Health Foundation's 'Mental Health Month' driving far more open conversation.
There is still a lot more work to do, however. Two in five (43%) men admit to regularly feeling worried or low. And, sadly, the male suicide rate remains nearly three times higher than women. It is the biggest killer of men under 45.
Given the scale of the problem, companies may want to consider how they can provide mental wellbeing support to their male employees. Here are some ways they could help:
Provide access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
Yes, a lot more people are now talking about mental health more freely. But seeking support or disclosing problems to loved ones does not come naturally to everyone. Some men still feel societal expectations around how they ‘should’ behave and the role they ‘should’ play in the family.
An EAP provides a phone line which employees can call 24/7 to speak with a trained advisor about anything that’s on their mind – from mental health to debt advice to addiction. Workers can access the EAP confidentially, both inside and outside of work, and arrange sessions with a professional counsellor as needed.
Men would be more likely to seek support if they felt worried or low if it was made available online, if they were guaranteed anonymity, or if help was made available at more convenient times of day. The makes an EAP service an invaluable resource for the male workforce.
Previous analysis of the usage of Personal Group’s EAP service showed that 55% of all EAP counselling calls came from men. The data showed that at weekends male staff were 25% more likely than female staff to access employee assistance services between 1am and 5am.
Offer an online GP service
In some good news – men are now equally as willing as women to see their GP if they feel worried or low, representing a large increase since 2009.
This year has also seen a rapid increase in the acceptance of digital health services, and accessing a GP is easier than ever before. Being able to speak with a medical professional at a convenient time saves the employee stress, and their employer gets back potential time lost to attend GP appointments during work hours.
A GP can provide clarity on the situation and information on treatment options which can help the employee feel more in control. Like the EAP, this is a service that can be accessed via the employee’s smartphone, at a time and place of their choosing.
Make more resources available
Not everyone will want to talk about their problems out loud, but they may look for relevant information to read and absorb. There problem is often that there’s so much health advice out there – and often contradictory – so it can be useful for employees to have everything in one place, coming from a trusted source.
Male depression, low mood and anxiety will never go away, so employers must make every effort to get the right information to employees when and where they are most in need of help. This is often outside of the workplace, when they are alone, on the phone or via a mobile app.
All mental health support offered by employers needs to be easily accessed, meaningful, and engaging.
Andrew Walker is the Business Development Director at employee benefits provider, Personal Group.
Article published on HR Director on 30th September 2021