We know that gender differences are prevalent in common mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. These disorders affect one in three people worldwide and many more women are diagnosed than men.
However, we also know that three in four suicides are by men. It is shocking that suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 35. Men are also three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent and are more likely to use and die from illegal drugs (The Men’s Forum.)
Does this mean that men’s mental wellbeing is worse than women’s? Not necessarily.
However, it does mean that gender plays an important role in defining our ability to be at risk, be diagnosed and then be treated for mental health problems. The World Health Organisation went as far as to say that gender is “a critical determinant of mental health and mental illness.”
The Employer’s Guide to Financial Wellbeing 2019-20 is our second annual survey of UK employees. The guide highlighted some striking differences between men and women’s financial wellbeing.
Initially, it would appear that women have far lower financial wellbeing than men. 36% of UK employees are worried about money and , perhaps surprisingly, people worry more about money than other areas of life including career (26%), health (24%) and relationships (19%).
When it comes to careers, health and relationships, there are no gender gaps in how much men and women are worrying. However, when it comes to financial health, there are some stark differences. Women appear to be worrying about money far more than men. 41% of women are worried about money as opposed to 32% of men. Women also have more issues related to these worries - sleepless nights, troubled relationships with colleagues, not finishing daily tasks and reduced quality of work.
What is perhaps most concerning is that women with financial worries are over five times more likely to have anxiety and nearly seven times more likely to be depressed. For men with financial worries, the impact of financial stress on common mental health issues is far less - they are 1.3 times more likely to be suffering. It’s clear that financial worries are causing or exacerbating anxiety and depression in women.
Taking time off because of financial stress
However, men are taking more time off work because of financial worries. 7% of women with financial worries took one sick day a year to deal with their financial problems, as opposed to 10% of men. So if men are on the whole feeling less financially stressed and money worries are having less of an impact on their work and mental health, then why are they taking time off because off because of money worries?
One possible reason could be that men who have money worries are far less happy with their jobs than women who have money worries. 12% of men with money worries said they were happy with their jobs as opposed to 20% of women with money worries.
So, whether financial worries are cause or effect when it comes to men being less happy with their jobs, it does suggest that the combination of lower engagement and having financial worries could be a catalyst for taking more time off work.
How open are we about talking about money?
Both men and women feel most comfortable talking about personal finances with their partner - 56% of women and 57% of men. However, when it comes to opening up to an employer, only 8% of women and 14% of men said that if they talked openly to their employer, they feel they would get help.
Inclusivity should sit at the heart of a wellbeing programme
It’s important for employers to be mindful that wellbeing is impacted by a number of factors - gender will be one of these.
If you find that women have lower levels of financial wellbeing in your organisation, don’t take this data at face value. Drill into the detail and consider what different groups might need. Men might appear to have higher levels of financial wellbeing, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not an issue for them. Inclusivity should sit at the heart of your wellbeing programme.
Interested in finding out more about financial wellbeing? Download The Employer’s Guide to Financial Wellbeing 2019-20