In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of men’s health issues, supported by annual initiatives such as Movember and Men’s Health week. This year sees the Movember movement celebrating its 23rd year – a phenomenal achievement – and whilst these campaigns provide a spotlight at key points in the year, we consider what can employers do year-round to ensure men’s health issues are prioritised.
Why do we need to be concerned about men’s health?
The statistics on men’s health are concerning. According to the Men’s Health Forum:
- Four out of five suicides are male
- One man in five dies before the age of 65
- 75% of premature deaths from heart disease are male
- 67% of men are overweight or obese
- Middle-aged men are twice as likely to have diabetes as women
The reasons behind these statistics are complex and multi-layered. We do know men tend to go to their doctor less frequently than women – this could be due in part to the stigma associated with discussing health concerns, especially mental health. This can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment, further exacerbating the health issues. For others it may be that they are not fully aware of the importance of regular health check-ups or the early signs of health problems. Whilst gender stereotyping has progressed in recent years, for some there may still be an outdated view of what masculinity is – being expected to ‘man up’ and ‘keep it together’ – asking for help may be perceived as a weakness.
What can employers do?
- Increase awareness: If part of the issue is that men simply aren’t aware of possible health risks, run campaigns that seek to educate about men’s health issues, including the importance of early detection and mental health support.
- Encourage open conversations: Create a workplace culture that encourages open discussions about health and well-being and support individuals and line managers in feeling confident to have these discussions.
- Support public Initiatives: publicise campaigns such as Movember and Men’s Health week and encourage employees to participate.
- Mental health support: signpost employees to any confidential counselling services, helplines, and resources for employees struggling with mental health concern whether that’s through a company funded Employee Assistance Programme or via external organisations.
- Maintain a focus on health and wellbeing: promote regular health check-ups, encourage employees to stay physically active and achieve a healthy work-life balance.
- Champion men’s health: consider having a men’s health champion that employees can talk to and who can signpost them to support.
- Lead by example: Encourage senior management to set an example by taking care of their own health and well-being, demonstrating that it’s not a sign of weakness to seek support when needed.
The health and well-being of all employees should be of paramount importance to employers. Appreciating that different groups of employees will require different strategies for supporting their well-being is equally critical. Initiatives such as the Movember campaign play a vital role in raising awareness, but employers also need to take an active role in supporting men’s health. By promoting awareness, fostering a culture of open communication and providing resources, companies can contribute to improving the health and overall quality of life for their male workforce. In doing so, we can help change the narrative surrounding men’s health and ensure that men feel comfortable seeking the support they need. Addressing these concerns is not just an ethical imperative but also a strategic one, as healthier and happier employees are more productive and engaged in the workplace.