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Fostering Men's Mental Health
and Positive Masculinity at Work

A silhouette of a head cut out on a white paper with colorful lines coming out of it.
Hacking HR Team

Posted on November 27, 2023

Mental health issues among men have reached alarming levels, with suicide being the second leading cause of death for males aged 15-29 worldwide. This disturbing trend shows that traditional norms of masculinity are harming men's well-being.

One of the significant factors that contribute to this alarming trend is the pressure and expectations of traditional masculinity, which can affect men's mental health and well-being. Traditional masculinity is a set of norms and stereotypes that define what it means to be a man, such as being strong, stoic, competitive, and dominant. These norms and stereotypes can limit men's expression of emotions, prevent them from seeking help or support, and increase their risk of stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

Mental health issues are not only a personal concern but also a workplace concern. According to a report by Deloitte, poor mental health costs the UK economy up to £45 billion each year because of reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, and higher turnover. Moreover, men are more likely to experience work-related stress, burnout, and harassment, which can worsen their mental health and well-being.

Our workplaces can play a pivotal role in counteracting these outdated stereotypes. As leaders, we must take concrete steps to foster positive masculinity that supports men's mental health.

Challenge and Redefine the Norms and Stereotypes of Masculinity

Promoting positive masculinity and mental health among men in the workplace begins with challenging and redefining masculinity norms and stereotypes. This effort can dismantle stigma and barriers, such as the fear of appearing weak or vulnerable. It can foster a more inclusive, supportive workplace culture that values men for their true selves rather than loving them for meeting societal expectations.

Practical Tips and Strategies:

  • Educate and raise awareness: Educate yourself and your employees about the impacts of traditional masculinity on mental health and the benefits of positive masculinity. You can leverage email, social media, intranet, or newsletters to share mental health resources. Organize workshops, webinars, or podcasts actively to discuss masculinity and mental health.

  • Use inclusive and respectful language: Communicate with male employees using inclusive language. Avoid phrases like "man up" or "grow a pair," and instead use affirming words like "take care of yourself" or "it's okay to ask for help." Promote a culture where employees call out harmful language.

  • Provide feedback and recognition: Acknowledge male employees' efforts, well-being, and resilience. Use recognition platforms or incentives to reward work performance and well-being behaviors. Share their stories and impacts through videos, podcasts, or blogs.

Celebrate and Embrace Diversity and Inclusion

Fostering diversity and inclusion is critical to promoting positive masculinity and mental health. It enhances male employees' sense of belonging, connection, and engagement and leverages diverse perspectives for creativity and innovation.

Practical Tips and Strategies:

  • Create communication channels: Establish platforms for male employees to share ideas and support each other. Use online forums, chat groups, or peer networks for open dialogue and support. Feature their stories in newsletters, podcasts, or blogs.

  • Organize social events and activities: Facilitate team-building exercises and social events to foster relationships and teamwork. Incorporate games, challenges, or social gatherings to celebrate milestones and successes.

  • Support men's health initiatives: Engage in movements and campaigns like Mpvember, focusing on men's health issues—partner with organizations that support and empower men in the community. People Experience Strategist CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

Empower and Inspire Men to Be Their Authentic Selves

The most crucial step is empowering men to be authentic. It boosts self-esteem and confidence, making them proud of their true selves and unlocking their potential and passion.Provide coaching and mentoring: Offer coaching to develop skills and capabilities. Practice active listening and open-ended questions, and bring in experts for personal and professional development.

  • Offer opportunities and challenges: Present opportunities for male employees to explore interests and talents. Use career development plans and learning platforms to identify strengths and aspirations, offering resources for skill and knowledge enhancement.

  • Model positive behaviors: Demonstrate and promote behaviors that reflect positive masculinity and mental health. Share personal experiences and examples, and use recognition platforms to reward positive behaviors.

Sustaining Change and Leadership's Role

The journey towards fostering positive masculinity and mental health in the workplace is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and commitment. Implementing these strategies, regularly evaluating their effectiveness, and adapting them as necessary is crucial.

Key Focus Areas:

  • Ongoing support and resources: Ensure male employees have continuous access to mental health resources and support systems. It could include regular check-ins, access to counseling services, and mental health days. Encourage an environment that normalizes seeking help and support.

  • Evaluating and adapting strategies: Regularly assess the impact of your initiatives on workplace culture and men's well-being. Use surveys, feedback sessions, and other tools to gauge effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. Be open to growing these strategies to meet the changing needs of your workforce.

  • Leadership's role in driving change: Leaders play a pivotal role in modeling positive masculinity and advocating for mental health. Encourage leaders to share their experiences and challenges regarding mental health, setting a powerful example for their teams. Leadership training should also include modules on understanding and promoting mental health and positive masculinity.

By focusing on sustainability and leadership's role, you're building a foundation for long-term change. This approach underscores the commitment to creating a workplace that continuously supports and values the well-being of all its members, particularly men whom traditional norms of masculinity may have historically constrained.

A Call to Action for a Healthier, More Inclusive Future

By embracing these strategies, you're cultivating a workplace environment ripe for growth, innovation, and mutual respect. When you challenge outdated notions of masculinity, you open doors to a culture where people see vulnerability as strength, diversity as an asset, and authenticity as the cornerstone of professional success. This journey towards positive masculinity and mental health is a transformative process that reshapes your understanding of what it means to be a man in today's workplace.

Each step in redefining masculinity norms, celebrating diversity, and empowering authentic self-expression contributes to a ripple effect of positive change. The benefits extend beyond the individual, fostering a healthier, more dynamic, and inclusive workplace.


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