With reports of chronic stress and similar conditions at an all-time high, the emphasis on promoting healthy practices in the workplace is now as important as ever. However, men’s health, in particular, is a tricky subject to tackle as, traditionally, men struggle to open up about health issues for fear of appearing weak or emasculated. While there have been some progress on this, thanks largely to awareness campaigns such as Movember, unfortunately these archaic notions still hold sway in today’s society.
“Male Wellness” is Not an Oxymoron
Prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide are just some of the health issues affecting men. The sad truth is that men are less likely to make use of their primary health provisions as compared to women. This means that even if the right measures and protocols are in place, men might not stand to benefit from them because of the simple fact of non-engagement.
Regardless of profession, men in general are more prone to chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, stroke and depression. They are also much more likely to respond to such situations by resorting to harmful coping mechanisms such as smoking, alcohol and substance abuse, while eschewing more productive avenues such as therapy, counselling or social support groups.
Psychological Made Physical
Hugh Martin, a psychotherapist, coach and founder of men’s health organisation Man Enough, says that such isolative behaviours are very specific to the male psyche and that the typical male upbringing ‘really enables that sense of isolation, or that a man can’t bring up an issue they’re having’.
Martin goes on to add that, in the workplace, men also tend to overextend themselves when it comes to working hours: ‘They tend to feel more isolated from home life, not as efficient at multitasking… It’s hard to sustain’.
Indeed, the following facts around men’s health are a serious cause for concern:
Men enjoy less life satisfaction.
They have less access to social support systems.
Men are more likely to be obese.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 35.
More then three-quarters of suicide victims are male.
Boys are falling behind girls at all levels of education.
“Awareness” may be a nice word to throw around wellness circles, but there’s a difference between knowing and acting. Most employers have their hearts in the place when they engage wellness consultants or invest in corporate well-being programmes. However, these efforts will count for nothing if they fail to address the crux of the matter.
It’s Time to Talk About It
The problem is social by nature. Men benefit greatly from the feeling of inclusivity that comes with a support network. When surrounded by their peers – all of whom face similar issues – men are more likely to voice their concerns and work towards solutions as they no longer suffer under the illusion of external judgement. Once this network is in place, change can truly take place.
Of course, the way such an initiative is executed also matters. Communication is key when it comes to building and maintaining relationships, and the same holds true in the workplace. You can’t expect something as impersonal as a bunch of generic motivation posters to do the trick. Kritika Singh, of corporate health provider SMG Health, emphasises the importance of a tailored approach to addressing the wants and needs of male employees: ‘It’s all about how the message is promoted to the staff. It has to be clear and show why the individual should take care of themselves’.
Last Thoughts on Men’s Health
While it may be unrealistic to create “male-friendly” workplace environments, the situation faced by men across the world is very real. We all wish to be in good health – even the most “alpha male” of men amongst us. Just because it’s not spoken about enough, it doesn’t mean that the problem doesn’t exist. So, men, don’t be afraid to open up to friends, family and colleagues about health issues.
To help install healthier habits in the workplace, get in touch with the WellteQ team today.