Why men’s mental health should be on every company’s agenda

In recent years, the #MeToo movement has played an important role in raising awareness and supporting women who have experienced various forms of abuse from men.

While this movement has been a powerful motivator to address systemic issues and barriers for women seeking justice, it should be noted that global suicide rates for men are more than twice as high as for women. . This represents 6.3 deaths per 100,000 for women and 13.9 deaths per 100,000 for men.

As more women are diagnosed with mental health issues, including depression, men’s mental health issues are slipping under the radar and leading to more serious outcomes beyond low levels of satisfaction. with regard to life.

“Anxiety and depression are the most common challenges for men today,” says Mary Spillane, clinical psychologist and Head space Mental health expert from the app. “Men tend to be less likely to seek professional support than women, which can also lead to issues managing their mental health.”

Through early prevention and intervention, we are able to improve the well-being of communities and families by focusing on reducing risk factors such as stress and improving coping strategies such as emotional resilience.

Positive support systems for men are likely to have a positive impact on women, as one in three women experience physical or sexual violence perpetrated by a man they know.

“While cutting back on work projects can be daunting, it can be a case of short-term pain for long-term gain.” -Mary Spillane

“Something about the way we have traditionally raised, educated, shaped and held our boys does not serve them, or the people around them,” says Hunter Johnson, founder and CEO of THINGS and charitable emotional intelligence The man cave. “I fundamentally believe these statistics are preventable, but the key word within that is prevention.”

Most of us are familiar with the term “toxic masculinity” – the cultural pressures men experience that damage their mental health and, by extension, others. Whether it’s aggression, acting tough, or showing a limited range of emotions, the notion that these types of behaviors are “manly” and acceptable is often perpetuated by popular culture.

A good example is the novel Fifty shades of Greyin which billionaire businessman character Christian asserts his dominance and ideas over shy student Anastasia.

“Culturally, we are at an inflection point in masculinity, which I find very exciting. The script we inherited and grew up with is being challenged, and language like ‘toxic masculinity’ has entered the public consciousness,” Johnson said. He points out that this can be very confusing, frustrating and often overwhelming for many men.

At a time of heightened awareness of toxic masculinity, here’s how three inspiring men are helping other men take charge of their mental and emotional health using practical strategies, which are being implemented in schools and organizations.

Highlight expectations

Reforming social norms is never as simple as it seems. For example, while men may experience anxiety when they are the sole breadwinner, their stress levels increase when their female partners contribute more than 40% of their income (according to a 2019 study conducted by the University of Bath in the UK). This suggests that men still prefer or feel compelled to be behind the wheel when it comes to household income.

“I think there’s a lot of these pressures that make you feel like, ‘I’m not a man unless I’m in a strong enough position professionally or commercially,'” says Nick Bracks, founder of the mental health media company. move your mind. “I’ve seen it in other people where it can cause these very serious mental health issues because of the pressure they feel that they won’t be able to have a quality of life if they don’t respond. not meet those expectations. .”

As an actor and mental health advocate, Nick Bracks believes that storytelling can be a powerful way to bring more honesty into conversations centered around mental health and gender stereotypes.

“At the core of what I’m doing now with the company, how do I distill it all down and break it down to really, on a simple level, just connect, share stories, share other people’s stories?” he says. “That’s why I love doing my podcast and being able to have these honest conversations. I think that’s what I’ve seen to be the most effective thing.

His digital well-being Classes are designed to encourage cultural change in schools and businesses. “The two main things we’re trying to do through Move Your Mind are to educate people and break stigma on a general level, but also to give people holistic prevention tools,” says Bracks.

We have nothing without nothing

men's mental health

Every breadwinner, regardless of gender, is aware that a high degree of hard work is required – or so we’ve always been told.

“I think people forget that no matter who you are, we’re all human and we’re vulnerable,” Bracks points out. “We only have a limited amount of bandwidth each day and we can only support a limited amount. So no matter what you do, there will be consequences if you don’t take care of yourself.

When Stuart Taylor, co-founder and CEO of spring fox, was diagnosed with a grade 3 brain tumour, he realized that while he enjoyed his leadership positions in the company, his lifestyle was not sustainable. Working in global accounting firms, he found that “the hours and demands of these roles were quite enormous, as anyone working in these environments would attest.”

After reconnecting with a consultant, whom Taylor partnered with, the duo set out to work with large organizations looking to achieve good performance without compromising on living a meaningful life at the same time, explains- he.

For the past 20 years, Taylor has helped organizations achieve sustainable performance with confidence and compassion, which he considers undervalued qualities.

With influential leaders Arianna Huffington (founder and CEO of Thrive Global) and Bill Gates debunking the myths that sleepless nights equal success, the mainstream narrative seems to be shifting to a healthier one.

“What we’re seeing more and more now is that the stigma is definitely going down and the likelihood of a man raising his hand and saying, ‘I need support,’ goes up,” Taylor said. CEO magazine.

Such was the case when Bracks was conducting a program with a construction company where a male worker approached him at the end of the session and told him of his plan to end his life. After getting the help he needed, this man shared his story with the company, giving others permission to do the same.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for leaders today is managing the shortage of workers and the resulting increased workload. While it can be tempting to work around the clock, especially for a remote workforce, Spillane advises managers to set firm boundaries.

“While cutting back on work projects can be daunting, it can be a short-term pain for a long-term gain,” she explains. “Reducing work where possible and prioritizing health and well-being is vital.”

Healthy masculinity is everyone’s business

men's mental health

Through his work with The Man Cave, Johnson focuses on early prevention through programs for young men. In doing so, he hopes to challenge traditional scripts of masculinity and improve mental health outcomes for men.

“We spend billions of dollars each year in Australia on crisis management services – which we badly need – but so little is spent on early intervention and prevention services.”

It is clear from participant feedback and global demand that creating a safe space for young men to express themselves authentically is a long-term strategy and investment for an equitable future.

“Eighty-six percent of boys who have taken our programs have a better understanding of how the stereotype of ‘being a man’ can negatively impact their mental health, and 84% want to redefine the stereotype and create their own version of it. ‘healthy masculinity,’ Johnson asserts.

For the cohort of adult men who are tied to their desks longer than they should or who find themselves embodying a stereotype that no longer fits, it might be time to assess whether your masculinity script is working for you. you and, by extension, your partner, friends and family.

“It’s not hard to put on a front and you have to have the right answer all the time. It actually takes a lot more courage to be able to be honest and open about how you feel, and that makes a huge difference,” Bracks says.

For many organizations, the past two years have demonstrated the importance of providing more empathetic and values-based leadership, which has traditionally been at odds with a results-driven, high-IQ culture. This is often expressed in the way companies interact with their customers, employees and future employees.

“Leaders who actively develop their emotional intelligence are much more likely to create psychologically safe, culturally strong and flexible work environments, and therefore, to increase productivity and long-term staff retention,” Johnson says.

Read next: How workplace design is changing to foster more meaningful team interactions

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