In the UK, it's estimated that 1 in 8 men suffer from a common mental disorder, such as depression or anxiety, and yet they are statistically less likely to speak up about this than women. So, it's important to create a workplace environment where everyone feels comfortable and encouraged to openly discuss their mental health and where they can access the help and support they need.
Below are 7 strategies that managers and team leaders can use to support their male colleagues:
1. Ensure you are armed with the necessary skills and resources to support colleagues with mental health issues. Seek out mental health training and coaching, find out about all the company resources available to their team and be consistent with regular 1:1 meetings.
2. Encourage honest and open communication about mental health and foster relationships where colleagues feel comfortable to speak up. These open conversations can lead to spotting symptoms of poor mental health early and avoiding instances of burnout, quiet quitting, or ultimately, a state of total overwhelm. It's vital that individuals get the help and support they need to continue to thrive.
3. Offer flexible working hours and working from home options, to help colleagues manage their mental health. We know that this isn't always possible, depending on the nature of your industry, but where possible, it's proven to have had an immensely positive outcome for many employees whose main mental health struggles derive from the work-life juggle.
4. Provide easy access to mental health services, coaching and counselling, either through the workplace, benefits, or via an external provider. This can help you do even more than merely signposting, as you can encourage your team members to take advantage of the help on offer and possibly provide further support by working on an plan of action together.
5. Encourage physical activity to support and sustain mental health. Encourage and remind your team to take breaks throughout the day or week in which to stretch, go for a walk or hit the gym. If you can role-model this behaviour yourself, you can demonstrate that these self-care activities are worthwhile and that protecting one's mental health is just as important as work.
6. Promote your organisation's support networks, such as Employee Assistance Programs. Other wellness networks can include either virtual or in-person meetings where employees can take part in group meditations, yoga sessions, or even just social catch-ups to check-in with one another.
7. Educate colleagues on mental health and signpost them to relevant services. One way to do this is by preparing internal newsletters or campaigns that coincide with national mental health awareness days.