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Men and mental health at work

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Spotting the signs and causes of stress in the workplace

Long in the past men have traditionally been viewed as the main breadwinner, the hunter and main provider and considered to be better prepared to face the day to day competition within the workplace and step up to a challenge. However, a recent survey by charity Mind has revealed that the workplace is the biggest cause of mental health problems for men.

In the survey of 15,000 employees across the UK by the mental health charity Mind, one in three men (32%) blamed their work for causing mental health problems, compared to one in five women (19%).

One of the big issues main is that men are less likely to ask for help with their mental health issues (especially at work) because they may feel ashamed and embarrassed about asking for help or they believe a perception that society demands them to look reliable and strong at all times

The survey also found men were also less likely to take time off work to help them deal with poor mental health issues and that men were less likely than women to seek for help for their mental health problems or speak openly with colleagues about the problems they were suffering

Take Robbie Williams for example, the 43-year-old singer made his big comeback in 2016 by signed up with world famous record label Sony. However, since Robbie has returned to stardom this has unfortunately bought back singer’s struggles with anxiety and depression back to forefront of his mind.

In a frank and honest interview with Sunday Times recently, Robbie said: ‘This job is really bad for my health. It’s going to kill me, unless I view it in a different way.’

Mental health left untreated or unrecognised can have devastating affects among male adults. Three-in-four people who commit suicide are men, and it is now the biggest cause of death for men aged below 35.

The Men’s Health Forum survey also revealed that men feared the reaction of their managers if they showed any weakness. They felt that their managers would look on them less favourably if they told them they had a mental health problem. Also, while most men would take time off work for an sports injury or flu, very few would take time off for mental health reasons or even admit to having any issues at all.

Furthermore, there is evidence that men are more likely to self-medicate using alcohol or illegal drugs in order to overcome the symptoms of a mental health problem. For example, men are almost three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent that is 8.7% of men compared to 3.3% of women.

Definition of a mental illness

Mental health issues include a wide range of conditions including:

  • OCD -obsessive compulsive disorder- considered to be intrusive thoughts, like worrying about dirt and germs, and repetitive actions, like washing and cleaning.
  • Stress - feeling under so much mental and emotional pressure that it is difficult to cope. Symptoms include low energy levels, lethargic, muscle tension, and difficulty sleeping.
  • Depression -more than just feeling unhappy or upset, depression is about long-term feelings of unhappiness or hopelessness. 
  • Eating disorders - such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.
  • Anxiety- feelings of unease, fear or worry which can be mild or severe. Some symptoms include panic attacks, headaches and insomnia.

Tackling this problem

This problem can be tackled by encouraging men to talk about any issues they have at work. It is fairly simple for men to avoid talking about their emotional lives yet as physical health is important so is mental health. Talking to someone can assist good mental health and help avoid any small issues we may have from becoming major health problems.

By Alex Penk, graduate paralegal in the personal injury team