Calling All Men

Globally every minute a man dies from suicide. 3 out of 4 suicides are men. Too many men are dealing with distress alone.

We’re alarmed by the increasing number of men who take their own lives around the world. We are working to ensure all men and boys look after their mental health and are comfortable to reach out to others for support when they’re struggling.
Paul Villanti – Executive Director, Programs, Movember Foundation

The Movember Foundation is an organisation working toward a world where men and boys take action to be mentally healthy and well, and are supported by their friends, family and community during tough times.Their aim is to immediately stop the increase in male suicide rates and reduce it by 25% by the year 2030. They promote their work though campaigns like Movember, which encourages all men to grow moustaches in November and raise funds for the foundation’s work.

As well as funding mental health, The Movember Foundation also fund prostate cancer research. Twins, the Hirsch brothers, are both prostate cancer survivors. They were both diagnosed with prostate cancer at the same time, and are passionate about spreading the message of men’s health by getting involved in Movember each year.

In this country in particular, 87% of rough sleepers are men, 95% of the prison population are men and men are 3 times more likely to become alcohol dependent than women.

52% of men are concerned about telling their employers that they need time off work with mental health problems and 35% or men are embarrassed to talk to their employer. (The Men’s Health Forum)

What can organisations do to encourage men to talk about how they are feeling?

  1. Know how to identify the signs and symptoms of stress/distress.

There are many different signs and symptoms to look out for such as changes in mood, changes in behaviour, negative thinking, changes in work performance, but the important thing in the workplace is that you spot any of these changes at an early stage and enquire about what is wrong. Letting a man know that you have noticed and are concerned may encourage him to speak about what is going on for him.

  1. Start the Conversation

The most important thing and employer can do is to start the conversation. Making it safe for men to talk about how they feel is essential. You may have to assure confidentiality to get men to open up. Re-assuring them that it’s OK to talk is very important.

  1. Use the right language

Men use a particular language to express how badly they feel. They may say things like the following when they are suicidal:

  • I’ve had enough.
  • I feel useless/worthless
  • I’m hopeless
  • Everything is pointless
  • I’m lost
  • I’m fed up.

Mirroring the language men use will help you to build rapport and get them to open up more about what is going on for them.

  1. Talk whilst doing an activity

Men are more comfortable talking when they are doing something. Walking around the building, or going for a coffee on/off site will enable men to feel more comfortable about opening up.

  1. Offer support

It is crucial that you offer support as the employer i.e. on going line management support, signposting to other services such as Occupational Health or the Employee Assistance Program and talking about these services in positive ways. Allowing the person time to attend these services in working hours is essential. Buddying up with a male co-worker can also help.

The Men’s Health Forum state the when working with men on health issues is it vital to do the following:

  • Respect men for their maleness
  • Use different language
  • Start to understand the obstacles to health
  • Be positive about men and boys
  • Ensure that their intention has clear objectives
  • Incorporate peer support
  • Publicise examples of men discussing their health issues
  • Use action oriented intentions.

To conclude, men’s health is a workplace issue and thought needs to go into gender issues around employee health. Involving men in scoping out how to reach them and communicate with them is a crucial part of any organisation’s wellbeing strategy.

If you would like to know more about the range of workshops and consultancy on building resilience to change in your organisation, please contact Sara Rawstron
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