This week marks Men’s Health Week, encouraging greater awareness of the issues affecting the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of men and boys. MAD-HR takes a deeper look at the topic.

Whether it’s Prince William talking about his own mental health experiences, Freddie Flintoff sharing the story of his eating disorder journey, or Nile Rodgers revealing his encounters with cancer – more men are using their voices to talk openly about male health.

Time and again, we hear it said that men are not great at discussing their health or seeking help, however perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope in the fact that we now have so many celebrities and personalities coming forward to share their insights.

But is this reflective of the typical UK workplace?

Does the average male colleague or leader speak up about their health needs or fears – or personal battles?

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Is there more that could be done to make sure we create a better work environment, in which all males felt able to gain support, knowledge, signposting or simple empathy?

While many companies are now seeking to address specific health issues in relation to women – menopause being one such focus – not all organisations are as acutely aware of the need to recognise male health.

That ‘need’ is indeed necessary. After all, men are frequently found to be more reluctant to make appointments for health fears; and, more worrying still, male suicide stands well above that for women (about 17 per 100,000) and particularly high in men aged 45-49. (**Suicides in the UK – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

The good news, however, is that the workplace has the opportunity to change that age-old narrative.

A proactive business leader can make some relatively simple but effective steps, in shifting toward a culture which ranks male health as a rightful topic of concern and respect.

Here are some of our suggestions for doing just that:

MAKE DIALOGUE POSSIBLE AND PLAUSIBLE
Do your staff know that there is someone with whom they can have a confidential conversation or to whom they can go to, when they want signposting for further health support?

This solution could begin with a reference in your onboarding letter or welcome pack about access to support, or it might involve identifying Wellbeing Champions within the workforce, who are trained to provide listening support.

IMPLEMENT A PROFESSIONAL HEALTH RESOURCE
Employee Assistance Programmes can be a very useful aid in ensuring your staff always know they have the ability to talk to an expert when they need it. Such programmes are easy to establish, and would be made available as a free benefit to the member of staff. Access to Occupational Health support can also be useful in providing support and advice to individuals and managers alike in relation to managing conditions in the workplace.

INTRODUCE EXPERT HEALTH LEARNING AND PRESENTATIONS
Many companies used Covid and the ‘norm’ of presenting over Zoom or Teams, to begin introducing external speakers to their staff or conducting specific workshops.

When it comes to health and wellbeing, there are many organisations and experts who would be only too happy to conduct a free workshop or webinar for your staff – on everything from mental health, to dealing with stress, to checking yourself for cancer signs.

LEAD FROM WITHIN, BY STORYTELLING
Do you know of staff who have had health issues?

Do they understand that their story would be valued as a learning experience and insight for others?

Encourage a culture where staff members feel they can take the opportunity to share with colleagues what they have experienced and what they have learned from it. This of course would need to be voluntary and handled in a sensitive way, as the organisation would need to be mindful of its obligations under GDPR.

EMBRACE AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS OR FUNDRAISING OPPORTUNITIES
It would be impossible to jump on every single awareness day or fundraising initiative, however by picking some which are particularly close to your values and your teams heart, your company could focus on the illnesses or issues which those awareness dates centre on.

Fundraising also helps staff unite and come together for common good, boosting engagement and morale, whilst also contributing to your company’s CSR commitment.

PARTNERSHIPS, DISCOUNTS AND MORE…
If your company is based near a gym, a sport park, or even open spaces, think about how you could work closer with those companies or local authorities to ensure your staff are able to gain health-focused time for exercise.

You might also look to join with your local Chamber or business network to create healthy events together, or something as simple as a ‘Walk and Talk’, during which employees can have the opportunity to exercise and share in conversation.

If you’d like more ideas for creating a better culture around Men’s Health in the workplace, please contact our team on 01473 360160