November 1st saw the start of “Movember”, a now global event that tackles men’s health by addressing issues faced by men such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention.
The statistics around men’s health indicate far higher levels of physical and mental health problems than women, and yet understanding of health issues and levels of access to health services are low.
According to research men also have a measurably lower access to the social support of friends, relatives and community. As most men spend a majority of their time at work, their job plays a big part in their daily routine and sense of who they are. it is crucial that awareness of men’s health issues should be raised in the workplace.
It’s not always easy to know how a man is really feeling. Many find it hard to open up, bottling up stress and respond with a “yes, fine thanks” when they are asked how they are doing. Many men feel they will appear weak if they speak out and think they need to try and deal with things themselves and be a “man about it”.
Estimates show that over half a million men die by suicide each year, that’s 3 times the rate of women.
Encouraging men to talk about things, asking them how they are doing, being there to hear what they have to say and helping them explore ways of making things better can make such a difference.
Whether you’re a friend, a partner, family member or a colleague of a man who’s finding things difficult, getting the conversation started is the first step.
Workplaces are central to the male sense of identity and companies have the chance to help break down barriers and engage men in thinking and talking about their health. Providing information on the main health issues faced by men needs to be communicated in the right way and employers need to make support, if it’s needed, as accessible as possible. Provide real facts and practical advice via posters and direct communication rather than people having to look for the information themselves.
Women can feel more comfortable with women-only groups for some activities, and it’s the same for men so run specific health Q&A sessions and campaigns for men to get these conversations started. Involve male role models from within your organisation.
Employee health and wellbeing investment is key in creating a better working environment, happier staff and ultimately increased productivity.
You can read more about workplace wellbeing here.