In male dominated workplaces, opening up can be perceived as a sign of weakness or vulnerability – what should HR do to combat this?
Male dominated workplaces can hold a ‘macho’ culture, where opening up is perceived as a sign of weakness or vulnerability, according to Marcela Slepica, workplace psychologist and clinical services director at AccessEAP.
“Worryingly, this type of masculinity encourages men to bottle up their feelings, leading to feelings building up and potentially has the ability to undermining their mental health,” said Slepica.
Indeed, men made up just one third of over 11,000 calls made to AccessEAP seeking support for mental wellbeing in the first quarter of the year.
Moreover, their concerns were significantly varied with anxiety (17%), relationship with partner (14%) and depression (14%) at the top of the list of their personal concerns. Meanwhile, workplace stress (15%), career issues (10%), and fear of loss of job (8%), were the leading work problems, with 12% considering resigning their job.
So what would Slepica’s advice be to help male employees who are experiencing mental health issues?
“My biggest piece of advice for mental wellbeing is to talk,” said Slepica.
“You may not be ready to speak to someone in person and that’s OK, call or email, there are organisations which can connect with you in a way that you’re comfortable for you. The key is to start talking.”
Slepica said Men’s Health Week (June 11th -17th) is the perfect opportunity for managers and employees to educate themselves about the behaviours that may indicate a colleague is going through a tough time and ways to encourage them to seek help if you’re concerned for their welfare.
Slepica offers the following tips to help male employees reach out in times of need:
• Seeking help is positive for your mental health. It is not a sign of weakness
• Make self-care a priority and set goals for sleep, exercise and “me” time
• Maintain social contact and keep in touch with friends and family
• Equip yourself with the tools and strategies you need to cope with challenging life
events. Start with your EAP and a confidential email, call or appointment.
• The best health is achieved with looking after both your physical and mental health
• Lastly, ask yourself what have I got to lose if I talk?