The macho, show-no-weakness images boys are surrounded by as they grow up do little to encourage them to open up about their mental health. According to the Mental Health Foundation, women are more likely to have been treated for mental health problems, but "this reflects women's greater willingness to acknowledge that they are troubled and then get support".
This is why, while many of the messages, recommendations and issues discussed in our book, Positive Male Mind, relate to both men and women in the workplace, our main focus is men. Our professional and personal experiences have highlighted that men struggling with their mental health find it difficult to ask for support.
The stigma around this subject can create fear that we will be judged or discriminated against because of our condition and discourage us from seeking support. Hiding our problems and hoping that they will go away really does seem like the easiest option.
This also poses a challenge for employers that are trying to support and communicate positively with men with mental health issues, which are the leading cause of sickness absence.
A poll conducted in 2015 by mental health campaign group Time to Change revealed that the stigma and discrimination faced by an individual with a mental health problem are often worse than the condition itself.
The stigma and discrimination faced by an individual with a mental health problem is often worse than the illness itself
In the study, 60% of people said the stigma and discrimination they had faced were as damaging or more damaging than the symptoms and 35% of respondents said stigma had made them give up their life ambitions and hopes. The same poll reported that 49% of workers felt uncomfortable talking to their employers about their mental health.
This stigma won't go away overnight but, on the positive side, attitudes are changing.
Celebrities, influencers and the younger members of the British royal family are talking about and raising awareness of mental health issues, highlighting and emphasising the importance of speaking up, seeking help and that we all have the potential to be affected.
Employers are also taking initiatives to promote positive mental health and educating their employees. Apart from simply being the right thing to do, it makes business sense for an organisation to create a culture in which employees feel able to talk openly about any topic, but especially their mental and physical health, and to seek support without being judged or discriminated against.
There is clearly still a lot to do but, if you are experiencing mental health issues, remember that these can affect anyone and there are people and organisations that can and will help you. You have nothing to be ashamed of.
Dr Shaun Davis is author with Andrew Kinder of Positive Male Mind: overcoming mental health problems.
Now in his 90th year, Schein is still at the cutting edge of human psychology.This is the fifth book in his “humble” series – co-authored with his son, Peter – and extends the belief Schein has preached tirelessly: that we all need to be more human – whether at work, in consulting others, when asking questions, or when seeking to support. It’s an essential companion for OSH practitioners.
The session was based on what are seen as the traditional career paths for safety professionals: adviser, to manager, to group level manager, to head of, and lastly director. But what I wanted our audience to consider was, why stop there?I started by getting us thinking about the average FTSE 100 company chief executive, a 46-year-old white male, who attended Oxford or Cambridge and has a degree in economics, law or business.
That is partly because, disasters aside, business leaders are not judged on their OSH performance. Their pay rises and upward moves are almost all determined by cost control and maximising profits.We often argue in these pages that OSH practitioners can do more to raise the profile of their discipline and persuade their employers to take them and their risk management skills more seriously. That’s true but, given the structural factors working against them, the profession’s cause could use some bolstering from outside.
Cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety rose by 13% to 1,800 per 100,000 workers in the 12 months to April 2018 compared with 2016-17 when the condition became the most common work-related illness for the first time, overtaking musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). While the rate of MSDs continued a long-term downward trend in the most recent period, dropping to a low of 1,420 cases per 100,000 workers, work-related stress has shown signs of increasing in recent years.
Nearly two thirds also admitted that they would feel uncomfortable asking for a mental health sick day and more than a quarter said bosses did little or nothing to provide support. Six out of ten surveyed said they felt their employer should be doing more to support employees with mental health issues.The survey of 1,000 employees who mainly work in human resources and administration revealed also that a further 43% had considered leaving a job due to stress or mental health issues.
Last week Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary, launched a “zero tolerance” strategy on violence against NHS workers. The new partnership between the health service, the police and the CPS is part of this. It aims to help victims give evidence and to bring offenders to justice more swiftly. According to the latest figures from the Department of Health and Social Care, more than 15% of NHS workers have experienced violence from patients, their relatives or the public in the past 12 months – the highest figure for five years.
Safety interventions should be practicable and cost-effective, but too much of an imbalance towards safety does not make economic sense for employers, argues Geoff Vaughan, who suggests ‘gross disproportion’ provides a practical limit.
Organisations should provide their crisis management teams with the correct level of training, investment and support so they can respond effectively to the major global risks facing the world in 2023.
Work-related ill-health and non-fatal injuries have risen, according to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) latest annual health and safety at work statistics for Great Britain, published last week
A UK study of line managers that explores the support they have given employees who have returned to work after long-term sickness absence due to common mental disorders highlights five behavioural strategies that could enhance HR and senior management policies and practices.