Let’s Discuss Men’s Mental Health
Men’s recognised health issues in the workplace include prostate cancer, testicular cancer, heart disease, early death and mental health issues. During Mental Health Awareness Week, we discuss men's mental health at work.
Men’s Mental Health is an issue
One area which is becoming more openly discussed is men’s mental health. The last couple of years have been difficult for many but have men suffered in silence? Some say mental health issues in men have risen dramatically, particularly during the Coronavirus. Whilst there is no evidence yet published that suggests suicide has increased in males, it is a view that the uncertainties in this ‘new world’ have created greater distress and a feeling of isolation.
Ashley Hunt, employment law adviser and specialist says:
“I have personally seen and felt a real shift in the way Mental Health is considered. In running Employment Tribunal claims it has become more noticeable that men are speaking out more to their employers when they have mental health issues which then enables them to seek help and support for the condition they are suffering from. However, there are still many instances where men do not feel comfortable talking to others, including their employers about a mental health issue, perhaps for reasons of embarrassment, privacy, or even a lack of acceptance that they made need help.
Society is now encouraged to be more open about the way men feel, difficulties they are experiencing and to speak out. But despite the more openness and society’s praise of those who speak out about their experiences, men are still somewhat behind. It is considered that men still very much believe opening up about mental health is not something men openly rush to do”.
Why is this?
While mental illnesses affects both men and women, the prevalence of mental illnesses in men is often lower than women. Men with mental illnesses are also less likely to have received mental health treatment than women in the past year.
Men are more likely to die by suicide than women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In 2019, 76% of suicides in England and Wales were men (ONS Sept 2020). In 2020 there were 5,224 registered suicide deaths of men and women, of which, around three-quarters were for men (3,925 deaths; 75.1%).
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45.
In 2020, males and females aged 45 to 49 years had the highest age-specific suicide rate at 24.1 per 100,000 male deaths (457 registered deaths) and 7.1 per 100,000 female deaths (138 deaths).
Often the pressure on men to succeed and be strong can be immense. Recognising the signs that you or someone you love may have a mental disorder is very important as this is the first step for them in seeking help and treatment, whether it is work or stress-related, depression, grief, anger management, paranoia, mental health trauma relating to alcoholism or substance abuse, feelings of inferiority, anxiety, sexual abuse or relationship violence, as well as bipolar and other more serious mental health conditions.
Men who have identified that they might have a mental health concern should confide in someone close to them and try to discuss it, maybe a doctor, friend or partner. If they find it incredibly difficult to speak about, they should ask for a doctor’s referral to a mental health professional consultant and seek proper advice and relevant treatment. It can really help to seek an external viewpoint and it could save someone from thinking that their only option is to end their life. Finding out more about the charity MIND can also help men to see that they are not alone with mental health issues and there is a whole network of support out there.
Why don’t men talk more about mental health?
A big factor in this issue is the damaging stigma around mental health problems. One in four people experience a mental health problem each year, yet the stigma around them is greater than with physical illness. This stigma tends to affect men disproportionately, and social expectations and traditional gender roles are thought to play a big part in this. The concept of ‘manliness’ as being strong and in control can mean it is seen as a weakness to ask for help. If men feel a pressure to appear strong, this can stop them from opening up. This can both cause and exacerbate mental health problems. For this reason, government bodies and charities, such as Movember, are working to change societal concepts of masculinity in relation to mental health and asking for help.
It’s time to open-up
If social pressures often mean men are finding it hard to open-up and discuss their feelings of vulnerability or seek help, how can this be changed? Our hope is that event’s such as International Men’s Day not only celebrates the value men and boys contribute to society but encourages men to value themselves and talk more openly about their mental health.
If you have been affected by the issues in this article, contact a UK charity who can help:
If you are experiencing issues at work due to your mental health condition and would like to speak to a non-judgemental person who understands and can listen, with the skills to create a sensible dialogue between you and your employer (if you need support in the workplace), please contact employment solicitor Ashley Hunt firstname.lastname@example.org. Initial discussions are 100% confidential and free of charge.View all