As it is male mental health awareness month, the mental health team at Vita Health Group – who work in partnership with the NHS to provide mental wellbeing services across the UK – has created a new infographic for employers in a bid to help remove stereotyped terminology that can be so harmful to male mental health, from the workplace.
When it comes to mental health, men are so often told to, ‘man up’, ‘grow a pair’, ‘don’t be such a girl’. Many of us are familiar with these phrases, right from childhood, through our school years and even into our professional lives. But the reality is that these phrases are toxic and are so often used with little or no thought as to the harm they may cause. It makes many men feel they cannot share emotion or speak up if they are struggling. Indeed, this goes some way in explaining why men are much less likely to access mental health services.
Lucie Ironman, Psychological Wellbeing Facilitator at Vita Health Group said “Statistically, men are more likely to take their own lives, but they are less likely to seek support for mental health issues. It is never O.K. to tell someone to ‘man up’. Now’s the time to give men a voice, normalise conversations around mental health and take down the barriers that so often prevent men accessing life-saving support.”
Lucie looks at the impact of using stereotyped terminology around male mental health, and what organisations can do to create an inclusive environment where men feel comfortable to speak up. Everyone in the workplace must stop and take note of the impact toxic language is having on men and those who identify as male. The key is to encourage every employee to consciously change their approach to how they talk about male mental health. Irrelevant of gender, societal status, or identity, it is critical men are not made to feel ashamed to look after their mind.
Ultimately, employers must focus on creating a safe environment and a culture of trust, where men (and all colleagues) feel they can seek support. Afterall, building an open culture around mental health in the workplace is not just the ethical and moral thing to do, but it makes good business sense too – the wellbeing of the employees in the workplace will always have a positive impact on business performance and the bottom line, too.
Granted, this isn’t something that can happen overnight, but confronting the issue of harmful language is a positive step in the right direction.