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How Practices can support International Men’s Health Week

This week, nations across the world will be celebrating men’s mental health week (13th - 18th June). The theme in the UK this year is ‘it’s time for men everywhere to give themselves a mental health MOT’.

Men’s mental health is often overlooked and untreated as they are less likely to seek treatment due to the stigma surrounding men who experience and report mental health conditions.

The Mental Health Foundation reports that 1 in 8 men have a common mental health condition and men are more at risk of committing suicide than women, statistics report 74% of suicides in the UK each year are men, and the statistics present a clear case for more support needed for men and their mental health.

Understanding the stigma and signs

The WHO produced a report in 2018 and stated that the cultural stigma that surrounds men’s mental health is the leading obstacle for people admitting that they are struggling with a mental health condition. Mental health conditions are extremely common yet there is still a stigma attached to them which can make the topic difficult to talk about.

The phrase ‘’man up’’ is often heard by males which can lead men to suppress their emotions to appear as strong and manly. The stigma can lead men into having low self-esteem and this can result in withdrawal from relationships and sometimes their social life entirely, dependent on the mental health struggles they are facing. When men suffer from mental illness, not all signs are visible as they tend to isolate their condition from others compared to women, therefore it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions.

  • Any noticeable changes in mood, compulsive, or reckless behaviour
  • Constant low energy, anger, aggressiveness, and irritability
  • Difficulty to concentrate or an inability to focus
  • Becoming withdrawn, losing interest in their favourite activities and in socializing
  • Feeling anxious, stressed, or hopelessness
  • Appetite and sleep changes

What can employers do to support men’s mental health in the workplace? 

The pandemic has caused most employers to stop and think about how best they can support their employee's mental health yet more still needs to be done for men’s mental health.

An Employee Assistance Programme

An EAP provides your workforce with free access to confidential mental health support, 24/7, 365 days a year through trained counsellors. The service can provide employees with assistance to balance their personal lives while at work by addressing any problems they may be experiencing. It is important to note that some staff do not realize that the service is confidential, some employees think that the employer is aware of names of staff and reasons as to why they may use the service which prevents them from using the service, however, this is not the case and communicating this to staff is important.

Displaying signage and posters with information on supports

There are numerous resources your employees can go to for support, some employees may not feel comfortable using the EAP program and prefer to use external resources, displaying posters and signage throughout the workplace with contact information of resources who can assist can be beneficial, below are a few suggestions:

  • The Samaritans 116 123
  • Mind Infoline 0300 123 3393
  • Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line 0300 5000 927

Creating a supportive environment

By creating a supporting environment staff will feel comfortable talking openly about their mental health. Arranging mental health training for managers will provide them with the tools needed to support their employees. Managers should also have regular one-to-one meetings with their staff to check in and address any issues they may be experiencing.

Men – it’s time for your MOT! 

This week in particular all men and employers should be supporting each other in getting an MOT. Employers can support this by issuing communications to all staff reminding them that it is time for them to look after themselves, and family and friends can open the conversation with males advising of the theme this year and what they can do to check themselves.

Men’s Mental Forum has suggested various steps that men can take to carry out their MOT.

  • Take notice of what is going on in both your mind and body
  • There is a quick and easy DIY Man MOT health check that men can do at home
  • Organise an NHS check
  • Book an appointment to see your GP or dial 111 if you are concerned about any symptoms
  • Encourage men to give themselves regular MOT checks

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