Aviva has highlighted six ways employers can support men’s health in the workplace, as part of this year’s International Men’s Health Week (14-20 June).
The advice has been given by Dr Subashini M, associate medical director at Aviva Health & Protection.
She says employers have an important responsibility to support this area of health as men are more likely to ‘tough out’ an illness and ignore symptoms. This is particularly a challenge with addressing mental health concerns.
“It’s important to encourage employees to talk openly about mental health so that managers and colleagues can identify warning signs and intervene early to prevent mental health issues spiralling out of control,” said Dr M.
“Where men are reluctant to reveal what’s on their mind at home or to a doctor, employers can create a space where no subject is taboo. This can save lives.”
The six ways highlighted by Dr M are as follows:
To combat the taboo around mental health, the workplace should be a comfortable place to discuss this. Leaders can set a good example by making it clear the business takes the subject seriously and being open about any experiences of their own.
Appoint mental health champions
Staff who are trained as mental health champions can drive mindfulness and wellbeing initiatives. These could involve anything from lunchtime exercise classes – online or face-to-face – to exploring shared interest groups or volunteering opportunities.
Train up a team of mental health first aiders
These are employees trained to identify issues by looking at behavioural traits and patterns, such as unusual sickness absence or presenteeism, and offer appropriate support.
Invest in training for leaders and line managers
According to Dr M, investing in training can help line managers learn more about mental health in general, but also the specific challenges which may face staff at different life stages. This training can be delivered remotely, to fit alongside core duties.
Establish an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
Wellbeing and mental health initiatives available through an EAP can help support employees in all areas of their lives, including work pressures, relationship issues and money worries. The service can include counselling options delivered through clinically validated smartphone apps.
Make use of wellbeing services from your insurance provider
Apps, helplines and online tools are available through insurers to ease access to services directly related to mental health, such as counselling, as well as physical wellbeing support – nutrition services, for instance – which have a close relationship with mental health.
Exercise-related staff benefits also fit in well with wellbeing initiatives, such as discounted gym memberships and cycle-to-work schemes.