In the last decade the number of men reaching out for counselling has risen from 18% to 27%, and recent research by the BACP shows 45% of all workplace counselling sessions are taken by men.
Movember and International Men’s Day have fortunately become a firm fixture in the UK’s annual calendar; a whole month dedicated to raising awareness about men’s health, and it would seem the idea is finally hitting home.
Men account for over ¾ of suicides in the UK and are more likely to resort to damage coping mechanisms, such as drinking, than women.
Traditionally, the issue of mental health has been met with denial or nonchalance and was mostly viewed as a woman’s issue however this is radically changing.
So what can we do at work?
At a time when nearly 10 million people require mental health support, and with a 1.2 million NHS waiting list backlog to access any kind of mental health service at all, it is paramount for workplaces to offer their own support to their male staff.
The upswing in men accessing counselling services is encouraging yet we must ensure that once November ends, our focus on mental health services does not.
It is absolutely vital that we assess the services we can offer our employees and ensure they are easily accessible. Men are more likely to take up a service if it’s easy to register, e.g. a one-step process to book a counsellor online instead of filling out a form and waiting for a response.
It would also be a good idea to check that any service offers focuses on the wider wellbeing of employees and not just crisis management.
Lou Campbell, counsellor and programmes director of Wellbeing Partners, explains this point further: ‘The emphasis is proactive wellness, processing difficulties before they become a crisis and normalising this as part of the workplace culture. This emphasis helps people engage earlier and helps remove the perceived stigma amongst some men about accessing mental health support.’
It is encouraging that men are finally opening up to the idea of looking after their mental health. As we move towards December, let’s not lose sight of this fact and instead capitalise on the great steps forward men are making with their health.
Ensuring men are up-to-date with employee benefits is another way to offer support, and as HR professionals we should absolutely delight in informing all members of our workforce about how the different services offered in the workplace can help them.