Understanding your options is key to men’s mental health

It’s Men’s Mental Health Week, and according to research released today by not-for-profit Employee Assistance Program, AccessEAP, around 1.5 million[1] Australian men identify as having a mental or behavioural condition.

However, when it comes to seeking help, men are still falling through the cracks, as they fail to get support for their mental health issues.

Men made up just one-third of over 11,000 calls made to AccessEAP seeking support for mental wellbeing in the first quarter of 2018. Their concerns varied, with anxiety (17 per cent),  relationship with partner (14 per cent) and depression (14%) at the top of the list of concerns.  Workplace stress was also a significant factor in the calls coming into AccessEAP’s service (15 per cent), alongside career issues (10 per cent), and fear of loss of job (8 per cent).

When it comes to seeking help, Marcela Slepica, Clinical Services Director at AccessEAP suggests men’s lack of awareness regarding counselling options contributed to their poor response to services.

“We visit hundreds of business places each year to discuss workplace mental health programs and one of the barriers we see men face is the concern that they’ll have to discuss their feelings or talk in person about their childhood.”

Slepica tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB) it’s vital that workplaces educate their male employees that programs can be catered for them to provide assistance and coping strategies and face-to-face counselling is not the only option.

“We want to give men the tools to ensure their own wellbeing and remove the stigma of taking care of your mental health. You wouldn’t build a house without tools, so why build a life without them?” Slepica asks.

Slepica suggests Men’s Mental Health Week is the perfect opportunity to open up the discussion. She says sharing emotions and issues can be particularly difficult in male-dominated professions and workplaces, so it is up to employers and employees to educate themselves on behaviours which might give hints that a colleague is struggling.

“Male dominated workplaces can hold a ‘macho’ culture, where opening up is perceived as a sign of weakness or vulnerability.

“My biggest piece of advice for mental wellbeing is to talk. You may not be ready to speak to someone in person and that’s OK, call or email, there are organisations which can connect with you in a way that you’re comfortable for you. The key is to start talking.”

AccessEAP’s top tips

  • Seeking help is positive for your mental health. It is not a sign of weakness
  • The best health is achieved by looking after both your physical and mental health
  • Make self-care a priority and set goals for sleep, exercise and “me” time
  • Maintain social contact and keep in touch with friends and family
  • Equip yourself with the tools and strategies you need to cope with challenging life events. Start with your EAP and a confidential email, call or appointment.
  • Lastly, ask yourself what have I got to lose if I talk?

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mediareleasesbyCatalogue/69778A66901ECBA5CA258067000CC719?OpenDocument

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Cec is the managing editor of KBB. She is a multimedia professional with over fifteen years experience as an editor on titles as diverse as SX, CULT, Better Pictures, Total Rock, MTV, fasterlouder, mynikonlife and Fantastic Living. She has spent the past four years working as a news journalist covering all the issues that matter in the political, health and LGBTIQ arena. She is the Head of Content at Pinstripe Media and a recent convert to the world of small business.

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