3 ways to support men’s mental health

Now's the time to act as allies and support male colleagues in their mental health

Men are one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to mental health issues. According to statistics from the UK-based Mental Health Foundation, around one in eight has a common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Men aren’t just overrepresented in common mental health problems; they are also more likely to die by suicide, affecting three times as many men as women.

Research has identified that men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK. In businesses, this means men in senior positions are struggling with mental health issues that require urgent intervention.

Within this age group, men from underrepresented communities, including LGBTQ+, BAME, war veterans, and those from less socio-economically advantaged backgrounds, are particularly vulnerable.

Men simply aren’t talking about their mental health. Societal expectations around gender roles make them less likely to access mental health services than women, where only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.

With men being less likely to engage in mental health topics, they may not recognise the symptoms in themselves, which leaves room for employers to step in.

Organisations should take an active role in supporting men’s mental health. This includes helping to educate the workforce about male mental health, creating a community of allies through education who can help spot warning signs, and providing the appropriate support systems for when men reach out.

Lucy Rout, Founder of Tabuu, makes sustainable pill cases for those taking medication. She shares her tips to help employers and colleagues better support men’s mental health following her mental health struggles.

1. Call out gender-based microaggressions

Reducing gender stereotypes have come a long way, but there is still a lot to be done. Subtle yet thoughtless phrases and actions towards men can reinforce the already intense pressure to conform and behave in a certain way, and it’s on all of us to call things out when they’re not right. Whether it’s asking someone if they have a wife or girlfriend rather than a partner, a seemingly friendly “oh, daddy daycare!” to a father out with their child or a jokey “man up” shared between friends, we need to recognise the impact these words and actions can have and speak up when things aren’t right.

2. Recognise that the news impacts everyone, including men

The recent events about violence against women in the UK have been very distressing for everyone, and it’s important that we also recognise the psychological impact it is also having on men. Fathers are concerned for their daughters’ safety, brothers worry about their sisters getting home safely, and millions of people are left feeling unsure how to behave with potentially detrimental impacts on their confidence and social ability. We now more than ever need to look out for one another and recognise that these feelings are valid for all genders.

3. If in doubt, pick up the phone

Friend that’s gone a bit quiet? Someone at work you’ve noticed dropping the ball on things? Boyfriend not sleeping as well as he had been? These all may be things that are absolutely nothing to worry about, but they can soon spiral into something more serious. Coming out of the pandemic will likely be an anxious time for many. We need to keep an eye on one another regardless of age, gender, or how seemingly well someone is coping. If ever in doubt, pick up the phone and check-in.

In this article, you learned that:

  • Suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 50, where minority groups are most vulnerable.
  • Men are less likely to seek mental health support, only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.
  • Because men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK, male staff in managerial roles may require more attention around mental health support in the workplace.

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