AccessEAP blog

Facing men’s mental health stigma head on

Half of all Australian men will have a mental health problem at some point in their life and 1 in 8 will experience depression, yet they are far less likely to open up about what is affecting them than their female counterparts. With a recent focus on promoting a healthy body and healthy mind, AccessEAP is doing its part in building awareness in some of the more male orientated workplaces such as construction sites and mines.

Talking about what’s affecting them and taking action are proven ways for men to stay mentally healthy but it’s still difficult to get men to take that all important first step. Often in male dominated industries, the macho mentality still exists where men are reluctant to show sadness or vulnerability for fear of the perception of weakness. If men don’t feel like they can open up and access help, it can have a detrimental effect on their mental health, physical health and overall wellbeing.

Toolbox talks

AccessEAP has introduced toolbox talks in an effort to raise mental health awareness. These sessions focus on increasing awareness of mental health issues and helping men to see that everyone needs help and that help is available.

AccessEAP has already provided tailored toolbox talks to organisations in the manufacturing, mining and construction industries and is amazed by the immediate effect it has had on participants. Often at the beginning of a session, we struggle to get men to talk but by the end, they can be reluctant to leave and AccessEAP has witnessed large scale discussion amongst participants about issues that may be affecting them in their personal or work life long after the session has ended. The toolbox talks are not only helping men to reach out for help, but also show them their organisation cares about them and values their wellbeing.

Recent data from AccessEAP shows that anxiety (17%), relationship with partner (14%) and depression (14%) are the leading personal issues for which men seek assistance while workplace stress (15%), career concerns (10%), and fear of loss of job (8%), are the leading workplace issues. The work impact of these issues is difficulties in concentrating, feeling less productive and 12% have even considered resigning.

Men’s priorities tend to change with age and with that come work commitments, longer hours and the possibility of family commitments. It is often difficult to keep in touch with friends and invest time in hobbies, which can lead to a lack of social connection. Without someone to talk to about the demands of a stressful job, long hours or family troubles, these everyday stresses can develop into something much more serious.

Managers and employees need to educate themselves about the behaviours that may indicate a colleague is going through a tough time and learn ways to encourage them to seek help if you’re concerned for their welfare.

Here are some tips to help men reach out in times of need;

  • Seeking help is positive for your mental health. It is not a sign of weakness
  • The best health is achieved with looking after both your physical and mental health
  • 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 a confidential EAP counselling appointment.