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Ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2021, Towergate Health & Protection is urging employers to help their male staff access mental health support. According to the latest figures from the organisation, women in the workplace are twice as likely as their male colleagues to ask for help with emotional wellbeing.

While data shows that women are generally more likely to suffer from mental health conditions and are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, men are three times more likely to take their own life. Brett Hill, Distribution Director at Towergate Health & Protection, said: “It could well be that the fact that men are less likely to seek support may be the reason that they are more likely to die by suicide so we are urging employers to tackle the issue.” 

Twice as many women asking for help

Latest figures from one of Towergate Health & Protection’s leading employee assistance programme (EAP) providers show a significant variance in the numbers of men and women seeking support. Over the last year, 56% of all calls to the EAP were made by women and only 29.5% by men (14.5% were unspecified). This is a long-standing pattern. 

The majority of calls to the EAP helplines are regarding mental health issues, with anxiety and low mood being by far the most common reasons for seeking help. 

Accessing support 

Data shows that women are more likely than men to experience some form of depression across all age groups. Women are also more likely to have suicidal thoughts. However, men are three times as likely as women to take their own life. 

Brett said: “Our figures clearly show that many more women seek support. The help and guidance needed is available and is already being accessed by women. The task, therefore, is to make men more comfortable in asking for help when they need it.” 

Actions employers can take:

•    Specifically target communications to men regarding mental health support. 

•    Piggyback national awareness days relevant to men, eg Movember, Father’s Day, Men’s Health    Week.

•    Create a men’s forum and ask them what would encourage them to seek help.

•    Emphasise that help is confidential.

•    Show (anonymised) case-studies of men that have accessed help.

•    Consider having a male champion at work to encourage accessing help.

•    Consider having men at work talking about how they have accessed help.

•    Lead from the top .

“This is a solvable issue,” said Brett. “Many employers will already have the resources to offer support but those who do not should consider putting them in place. It is all about making access visible, easy, and stigma-free.”  

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