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Is your business doing enough to support men’s health and wellbeing?

Men’s Health Week provides an opportunity for employers to prioritise male employees’ health and wellbeing by raising awareness about health issues, promoting preventive measures, and offering support and resources. Is your business doing enough?

Men face some unique health challenges, including higher rates of certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and mental health disorders and, this Men’s Health Week (10-16 June).

In the UK, one in eight men will get prostate cancer[i] and it’s the second most common cancer in men globally, with an estimated 1.4 million new cases each year[ii]. What’s more, around one man in five still dies before the ‘traditional’ retirement age of 65 with cancer, suicide and heart disease being the biggest killers of working-age men[iii]

Men are also less likely to visit a GP or pharmacy and more reluctant to admit when they are sick and need help. They are also less likely to seek help for mental health issues, contributing to higher rates of suicide among men. Four in five suicides in the UK are by men, with suicide the biggest cause of death for men under 35[iv]. A reluctance to discuss their issues can make it difficult for those around them to understand what they are going through until it is too late.

Employers can play an important role in supporting men’s physical and mental health. To do this effectively companies must normalise conversations around men’s health and encourage men to discuss any health concerns. This needs to be done in a sensitive way and not forced, and line managers must be trained to spot signs and make referrals into support pathways.

Here are five actionable tips employers can take today to support men’s health.

Lead from the top

Leadership plays a central role in shaping company culture and breaking stigmas around health issues. Encouraging senior male leaders to become role models and openly share their health challenges and experiences sends a powerful message to the rest of the organisation. This can help normalise conversations around health and create an environment where employees feel more comfortable seeking help. Leaders sharing their experiences can signal to others that it is okay to talk about health concerns, creating a culture of openness from the top down.

Tailor communications

Effective communication is crucial in raising awareness and encouraging men to take proactive steps regarding their health. It is essential to use clear, straightforward, and non-judgmental language. Tailoring messages to focus on mental strength, resilience, and performance rather than mental health and illness can be more effective in engaging men. Employers should utilise technology to provide remote access to support and information, making it easier for men to find help without the perceived stigma of visiting a GP.

Promote access to support tools

Employers need to ensure that their range of support tools is easily accessible and clearly communicated. This includes providing information on how to access health screenings, mental health resources, and counselling services. It’s vital that employees are aware of these benefits and understand how to access them when needed. Highlighting these resources during health awareness weeks like Men’s Health Week or through regular internal communications can help reinforce their availability and importance.

Create a supportive community for men

Providing a supportive community within the workplace can significantly impact men’s willingness to discuss their health issues. Employers could establish men’s health groups, mentorship programmes, or employee resource groups focused on health and wellbeing. Organising activities such as charity bike rides, running challenges, or walking groups can provide opportunities for men to engage in healthy activities while promoting a sense of community and encouraging men to have open conversations about health.

Provide education and raise awareness

Education is a key component of improving men’s health. Employers could organise educational workshops and informational sessions on health topics such as prostate health, cardiovascular disease, and mental health. Providing credible and trusted information about common health issues and preventive measures can empower men to take control of their health. Sharing educational materials and resources can help men become more aware of potential health risks and the importance of regular check-ups and screenings.

Conclusion

Men’s Health Week provides an opportunity for employers to prioritise male employees’ health and wellbeing by raising awareness about health issues, promoting preventive measures, and offering support and resources. Providing information on health issues with clear pathways for accessing support and professional help if needed is vital.  By addressing men’s health proactively, employers can create a healthier and more resilient workforce.

Emma’s podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/2113284/15191873.

[i] https://prostatecanceruk.org/

[ii] International Agency for Research on Cancer – IARC

[iii] v https://www.rsph.org.uk/about-us/news/blog-levelling-up-men-s-health-it-s-time-for-a-strategy.html

[iv] https://www.matesinmind.org/training-and-resources/men-s-health-week-10-16-june-2024#:~:text=Here%20at%20Mates%20in%20Mind,Let’s%20start%20the%20conversation.;

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