We need to Talk About Men’s Mental Health at Work

How often have you seen men openly discuss their mental health at work? Probably, not very often. But does that mean they’re coping with it better? No.

Posted by Avail Content
28 days ago

The research on men’s mental health shows how distress manifests differently in men than women, and how they cope with stress differs as well. Men are far less likely to seek help for mental health challenges, irrespective of age, nationality, or ethnic or racial background. More often than not, the demotivator is driven by gender-related barriers and stigmas.

Men face both self-stigma and social stigma about showing their emotions or talking about their level of anxiety, low mood, and stress. The self-stigma comes from the often-unconscious masculine ideals that have been culturally conditioned and socialized into their narrative of self, or their identity as men. This can reduce their capacity to acknowledge and recognize their own sadness and articulate those feelings to themselves.

As a result, taking the time to think deeply about their feelings often causes anxiety in men, as it makes them realize that their current state doesn’t match their own, or larger society’s, definition of masculinity. In fact, doing so may lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment.


Whether they’re at work, or outside of it, distress in men can often show up in behaviors such as:

  1. Distraction:- Binge-watching shows, excessive time on devices or video gaming, spending
    endless hours at work or over-investing at work, diminished work
    performance, difficulty concentrating and completing tasks on time.
  2. Escaping:- More frequent and heavy drinking (especially alone), binge eating and over- investing in indulgent activities
  3. Withdrawal:- Not joining the team for lunches or post-work social activities, eating   alone,avoiding social contact with friends and family, taking an excessive number of sick day
  4. Externalization:- Low impulse-control, high irritability, snapping at and getting frustrated     with colleagues, showing anger, and portraying anti-social behaviors towards others.


How Managers Can Step In


The first step to getting people to be comfortable talking about their mental health at work, irrespective of gender, is to build a climate where it is psychologically safe to show vulnerability. When it comes to men, this is even more important, as they’re less likely to open up about their emotions.

Here are some ways to create that comfort:


Show your own vulnerability in private settings.

During a one-on-one with your male employee, open the door to a vulnerable conversation. For instance, you might say, “The past few weeks have been really tough for me. I was juggling a sick parent and new project deadlines. I’m feeling overwhelmed with all that’s been going on and need some time for self-care. How have you been?” If you’re a male manager, it is all the more important to set the example. Show acceptance and vulnerability by sharing the impact of your own life and work challenges on your emotional state.

Talking about how you’ve managed to seek help from others or even professionals, normalizes the idea for your team members, encourages them to similarly express their emotions, and removes some of the fear typically socialized into men.


Focus on the semantics.

We know that when individuals identify with a particular ideal (masculine identity in this case), any conversation or use of words that threatens their sense of belongingness to that identity can result in anxiety. For example, when men hear words like depression and sadness being referenced to describe their condition at work, they may become more anxious and avoid discussions. As a manager, you can be socially intelligent and tweak your language to avoid identity threatening terms, like “depression” and “sadness” especially when you’re around men.

Don’t expect magic to happen after you implement these tips. This is a sensitive subject and change takes time. In the end, remember that talking about their mental health is tough for anyone, not just for men. But as a manager, you can open the door and create the space people need to start having
real, honest conversations, and get the help they need.


For full article refer to Harvard Business Review - Ruchi Sinha.

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We need to Talk About Men’s Mental Health at Work

Last updated 28 days ago

The research on men’s mental health shows how distress manifests differently in men than women, and how they cope with stress differs as well. Men are far less likely to seek help for mental health challenges, irrespective of age, nationality, or ethnic or racial background. More often than not, the demotivator is driven by gender-related barriers and stigmas.

Men face both self-stigma and social stigma about showing their emotions or talking about their level of anxiety, low mood, and stress. The self-stigma comes from the often-unconscious masculine ideals that have been culturally conditioned and socialized into their narrative of self, or their identity as men. This can reduce their capacity to acknowledge and recognize their own sadness and articulate those feelings to themselves.

As a result, taking the time to think deeply about their feelings often causes anxiety in men, as it makes them realize that their current state doesn’t match their own, or larger society’s, definition of masculinity. In fact, doing so may lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment.


Whether they’re at work, or outside of it, distress in men can often show up in behaviors such as:

  1. Distraction:- Binge-watching shows, excessive time on devices or video gaming, spending
    endless hours at work or over-investing at work, diminished work
    performance, difficulty concentrating and completing tasks on time.
  2. Escaping:- More frequent and heavy drinking (especially alone), binge eating and over- investing in indulgent activities
  3. Withdrawal:- Not joining the team for lunches or post-work social activities, eating   alone,avoiding social contact with friends and family, taking an excessive number of sick day
  4. Externalization:- Low impulse-control, high irritability, snapping at and getting frustrated     with colleagues, showing anger, and portraying anti-social behaviors towards others.


How Managers Can Step In


The first step to getting people to be comfortable talking about their mental health at work, irrespective of gender, is to build a climate where it is psychologically safe to show vulnerability. When it comes to men, this is even more important, as they’re less likely to open up about their emotions.

Here are some ways to create that comfort:


Show your own vulnerability in private settings.

During a one-on-one with your male employee, open the door to a vulnerable conversation. For instance, you might say, “The past few weeks have been really tough for me. I was juggling a sick parent and new project deadlines. I’m feeling overwhelmed with all that’s been going on and need some time for self-care. How have you been?” If you’re a male manager, it is all the more important to set the example. Show acceptance and vulnerability by sharing the impact of your own life and work challenges on your emotional state.

Talking about how you’ve managed to seek help from others or even professionals, normalizes the idea for your team members, encourages them to similarly express their emotions, and removes some of the fear typically socialized into men.


Focus on the semantics.

We know that when individuals identify with a particular ideal (masculine identity in this case), any conversation or use of words that threatens their sense of belongingness to that identity can result in anxiety. For example, when men hear words like depression and sadness being referenced to describe their condition at work, they may become more anxious and avoid discussions. As a manager, you can be socially intelligent and tweak your language to avoid identity threatening terms, like “depression” and “sadness” especially when you’re around men.

Don’t expect magic to happen after you implement these tips. This is a sensitive subject and change takes time. In the end, remember that talking about their mental health is tough for anyone, not just for men. But as a manager, you can open the door and create the space people need to start having
real, honest conversations, and get the help they need.


For full article refer to Harvard Business Review - Ruchi Sinha.