Raising Awareness: Men’s Health Week

Warning: this page includes mention of suicide.

At Parent and Professional, we understand the immense pressures that men face daily. Balancing work, family responsibilities, and societal expectations can be overwhelming. This is why Men’s Health Week, organised by the Men’s Health Forum, is so crucial. This annual event aims to raise awareness of men’s health issues and encourage men to seek help for any health concerns they may be experiencing.

Understanding the Importance of Men’s Health Week

Men’s Health Week UK runs from Monday 10 to Sunday 16 June. This year’s focus is on encouraging conversations within organisations and across networks about men’s mental health. The statistics surrounding men’s mental health are hard-hitting and underscore the importance of this week:

  • One in five men dies before the age of 65. This alarming statistic highlights the urgent need for better health awareness and preventive measures.
  • Four in five suicides are by men, with suicide being the biggest cause of death for men under 35. This stark reality emphasises the critical need for mental health support.
  • In 2021, 6,319 suicides were registered in the UK, with 507 in the construction industry alone. This sector-specific data shows the high-risk environments some men work in.

Why Men’s Health Week Matters

The mental health challenges faced by men often remain unspoken due to societal stigmas. Men are less likely to seek help for mental health issues, which can lead to devastating consequences. Men’s Health Week provides an opportunity to break down these barriers and encourage open discussions about mental health.

Mental health is a fundamental aspect of overall wellbeing. When mental health issues are addressed, it positively impacts physical health, relationships, and work productivity. This is why advocating for mental health is essential.

Encouraging Conversations and Breaking the Stigma

One of the primary goals of Men’s Health Week is to encourage conversations about mental health. Starting the conversation can be as simple as checking in with a colleague, friend, or family member. Open discussions about mental health can help to break the stigma and create a supportive environment.

Strategies for How Organisations Can Help

Organisations play a crucial role in supporting men’s health. Here are some strategies to help:

Promote Men’s Health Week activities: Share information about Men’s Health Week through your organisation’s communication channels. Encourage participation in events and discussions.

Facilitate mental health training: Offer training sessions on mental health awareness and first aid. Equip your team with the knowledge to recognise and respond to mental health issues.

Create a supportive workplace culture: Foster an environment where mental health is openly discussed and supported. Implement policies that promote work-life balance and employee wellbeing.

Encourage seeking help: Normalise seeking help by sharing resources and information about mental health services. Ensure that employees know where and how to access support.

Schedule webinars: Utilise resources like P&P’s work and family balance webinars focused on “Boosting Midlife Health at Work” and “Working Dads”. These initiatives can provide targeted support to men navigating career and family life, helping to improve their overall wellbeing.

Offer 1-1 coaching: Men benefit hugely when they engage in 1-1 coaching sessions, which offer a safe space to be truly heard and acknowledged.  It is well-known that talking therapy reduces anxiety and enables connection with a trusted professional partner.  P&P Coach Tim Hedin says:

“A coaching environment can bring a new awareness, understanding and perspective to issues and help normalise people’s experience whether it be at work or at home. Embracing rather than fearing vulnerability can be curative and I have found and experienced myself the huge benefits that come from listening to and being listened to. It can be a catalyst for deep and lasting change.”

Support the Dads in your Organisation During Men’s Health Week

Supporting dads with work and family balance strategies helps them to recognise how their role as a father can have a positive impact on not only their own wellbeing, but that of their children’s too. Fathers play a critical role within families. While attention is often given to mothers’ physical and mental health during and beyond the maternity period and beyond into parenthood, fathers’ mental health is often overlooked. This gap in awareness and support can have profound effects on the wellbeing of fathers and their families.  P&P Coach Ian Dinwiddy says:

“Societal expectations that assume that new dads are both unaffected and inherently skilled to cope with both their own, and their partners, emotional and practical highs and lows, leave many men feeling like asking for support is a sign of weakness and failure. NCT research indicates that men are twice as likely to suffer from depression in the first year of fatherhood in comparison to their child free friends and colleagues while Australian research found that 80% of men felt anxiety to be the “rock” for their family unit. Supporting new dads throughout the early years of their fatherhood journey will undoubtedly lead to better mental health and workplace performance outcomes.“  

When organisations recognise that dads are also going through a huge life change and provide the same level of support and recognition as for new mothers the outcome can be outstanding as recently experienced by our client Sidley LLP.

Through coaching sessions provided by Parent & Professional working dads have found it useful to talk about everything from coping with sleep deprivation to better managing work with family needs, as well as preparing their careers for promotion, while meeting the needs of a young family.

It’s crucial to recognise that fathers, too, face significant emotional and psychological challenges when raising a family whilst balancing their careers. The societal expectation often places them in a supportive role, which can sometimes lead to their own needs being neglected. Addressing this requires a cultural shift towards acknowledging the importance of fathers’ mental health and ensuring that support systems are inclusive of their experiences and challenges.

Men’s Health Week is a vital initiative to raise awareness about the health challenges faced by men, particularly in relation to mental health. By starting conversations, breaking down stigmas, and advocating for change, we can help to improve the mental health and overall wellbeing of men in our communities. Let’s take this opportunity to make a difference and support the men in our lives.

Let’s work together to create a healthier, more supportive environment for all.

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