There have been many conversations recently about the importance of taking care of our mental health, particularly at work where workplace stress has become a prominent problem across the UK. Many discussions have taken place around offering greater flexibility and improving our work life balance, but this often aimed at women, who undoubtedly face many issues balancing their careers and family responsibilities. But this is only one half of the issue, afterall many men also face the same daily juggling act, combined with the pressure to work long hours and provide for their families. Furthermore given the shocking statistics around male suicide, it is afterall the biggest killer of men aged 20-49, shouldn't employers be taking a leading role in the debate?
A recent study from UK job site CV Library states that an astonishing 61% of men are considering quitting their jobs due to the effect their career is having on their mental health. The study quizzed 2000 UK workers and found that, although more women reported suffering from mental health issues, more men felt that their mental health was affected by their job. Worryingly, a significant proportion (60%) of respondents felt unable to raise the issue of mental wellbeing at work with their manager. Reasons cited included the fact that they were worried their competence would be called into question, they felt that they would be judged or their boss had little understanding around the subject.
Interestingly, after their colleagues, both men and women answered that they would be least likely to raise the subject with their manager.
What can employers do?
When the respondents were asked what they would like to see happen, there were several things mentioned that employers can do to open up the conversation and improve the mental wellbeing of their staff. For example, recognising the fact that employees have responsibilities outside of work is a key consideration. A healthy work life balance is often touted as one of the most important factors in choosing a career, so making a few adjustments can pay dividends. Removing the pressure to work long hours, being open to flexible working arrangements and allowing employees to take time off when needed are all important to workers and can have massive benefits in terms of mental wellbeing. Other positive things that managers can do include encouraging an open discussion around mental health in the workplace and providing wellbeing services, such as counselling or advice/helplines for all employees.
The results of this study make serious reading and it is clear that something has to be done to encourage a more open and supportive environment in the workplace. Without change, employers are in danger of presiding over an unengaged workforce who feel don't feel valued and ultimately losing good staff.
Do you feel that your career has a negative effect on your mental health? Starting a conversation about your career is a great first step towards regaining control.