Men’s Health- Reducing Stigma in the Workplace
It's Men's Health Week from the 14-20 June. The focus is on Connecting for Men's Health, find out more on the official website.
Misunderstandings about mental health can lead to prejudice, discrimination and stigma. While there have been changes recently in the media reporting on mental health concerns, stereotypes are often perpetuated in sport, films, media and social networking especially by images portraying unrealistic images of men as strong, self-sufficient and “practical providers”. In reality these are unhelpful and often untrue and, there is even more scope for the role of media and social media in debunking myths and raising awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. The most effective way to break down prejudice and stereotyping of mental health issues is through; education, awareness and listening to people’s personal stories.
Men who suffer with Mental Health issues feel societal stigma is often more disabling than the illness itself. Coping with a mental health issue often includes increased use of drugs and alcohol, risk taking behaviour and social isolation. Over time these activities negatively influence self-esteem and confidence and in extreme circumstances can lead to suicide. Men are afraid of the impact on their relationships and career if they open up and talk about or show their feelings. Often feelings like anger or aggression can mask underlying depression.
Research by the Mental Health Council of Australia (2013) found that discussing a mental health issue is still taboo in the workplace. Research conducted states that 69% of people are uncomfortable to disclose a mental illness to their employer, while 35% would never disclose. The study reported that 48% of respondents had taken time off work for a mental health issue and not disclosed the reason to their employer. These are alarming statistics and reflect the need for action to eliminate the stigma and fear of disclosing a mental health issue in the workplace.
1 in 8 men will suffer from some form of mental health issue over a lifetime. Life’s issues such as the death of a loved one, illness, injuries, genetics, interpersonal conflict as well as drug and alcohol abuse can all contribute to levels of anxiety and depression. Seeing a person ‘with’ a mental health issue rather than labelling them is a helpful shift. Acceptance by peers and family, knowing that there is help available and being supported to access help are critical in helping individuals seek the appropriate assistance.
Organisations need to have procedures in place to manage mental health in the workplace and work towards eliminating the fear of disclosure. They should provide training to leaders and supervisors to help them have sometimes difficult conversations with the team members around their personal wellbeing and potential mental health concerns. We often are reluctant to offer support because we are afraid of saying the wrong thing.
What can Newport & Wildman do to help?
We can provide a comfortable and private space to talk where there isn’t pressure to bottle things up. A person who is experienced in understanding human emotion and behaviour can listen without judgment and without consequence. We can even offer tips or strategies if that’s what is wanted or needed.
EAP sessions are free and confidential. You choose how much you want to say and what you want to focus on in the sessions.
How to arrange an EAP session
All that you need to do is contact us on 1800 650 204 and our Client Services Team will book you in for an appointment with one of our clinicians.