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Men’s Health MOT- Providing support for male staff
Did you miss Men’s Health Week last week? Well, despite there being a focus on this for one week, this is a topic we need to be thinking about throughout the year. This year’s theme is on men having a health MOT.
Why is there a need for a focus on men’s health specifically you might be wondering? Surely the health of everyone is important? The reason is that men’s health simply doesn’t get the same coverage as women’s health or other demographic groups. For whatever reason, men still just don’t seem to be as comfortable talking about their health. This is especially so when it comes to mental health.
Last year’s theme for men’s health week was all around supporting men’s health during the pandemic. It is recognised that due to the pandemic, many health conditions have gone undiagnosed, with treatment not being sought. As we are emerging from this pandemic, the focus has changed. This year the focus is on encouraging men to take stock of their own health with a men’s health MOT.
Stats around men’s health has highlighted the importance of focusing on this. The Mental Health Organisation has reported:
- Three times as many men as women die by suicide
- The highest suicide rate is among men between the age of 40-49 in the UK
- Men report lower levels of life satisfaction than women according to the Government’s national wellbeing survey
- Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. Only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies being for men
What should employers be aware of?
There is a huge focus by many organisations on employee wellbeing following the pandemic. Employers are realising, they have both a duty of care to support their employees and their wellbeing. At the same time, they are also recognising it makes business sense to do this. Employees with a higher level of wellbeing and overall health are much more likely to be engaged and more productive. Especially if they see their employers are actively supporting them in this area.
It’s important to recognise that if men are less likely to be talking about their physical and mental health, and less likely to seek support in their private lives, then this will also be the case within the workplace. This will help to ensure men take advantage of these and benefit from them.
What can employers do?
The Men’s Mental Health week theme this year encourages men to look at their own health. Both physical and mental, through seeking a men’s health MOT. This is something employers can both promote and support in a several ways right through the year:
Share details of an online health MOT that men can do at home that Men’s Health Forum have developed and encourage employees to do this themselves, highlighting men over 40 are entitled to a free health check on the NHS.
Publicising and communicating the importance of a regular review of your health through a men’s health MOT is the first step whilst also providing the flexibility in working hours for employees to do this with their own GP.
Offering Health MOTS
Do you offer private healthcare to your employees? Can you build regular health MOTs into this offering for all employees? Or could you offer it in house to your employees with some simple health checks available. Such as blood pressure, cholesterol checks etc? Making it easy for people to pop away from their desk to attend an MOT with a medical professional in your offices can encourage people to attend. Bear in mind that men are less likely to seek help so ensure you provide a private space for these.
Employee Assistance Programmes
If you offer an Employee Assistance programme, make sure you are promoting this to all employees. Ensure employees are clear this is a confidential service. Whilst men may be less likely to want to talk about things, online counselling can offer a viable option. This being more convenient and often less daunting than attending a face-to-face session.
When did you last review your employee benefits? Are they meeting the needs of your employees? Always ensure that employees are aware of all these benefits. This can be achieved through clear and regular communication on what is available and how employees’ access these. Could you consider a flexible benefits programme so employees can choose what is most beneficial for them as individuals?
When communicating with your employees about benefits or any health and wellbeing initiatives, use language that is gender neutral. Maintain a balance and variety in images being used so it is not viewed as being overly feminine or masculine.
Activity based challenges or sponsorship
Are there any activity-based activities or challenges that can bring people together to exercise? For example, bike races, running and walking team challenges. As an employer could you offer any sponsorship to encourage people to participate for a worthy cause?
The health and wellbeing for all employees is important. However, with the statistics highlighting some of the additional issues being faced by men and the understanding that they are less likely to talk about their health and seek help, highlights the need for men’s health month. Encouraging men to look after both their physical and mental health and seek help when required is something employers can play an important role in, which in turn will benefit all employees.
Find an HRi accredited HR consultant for more advice or help in promoting health and wellbeing in your workplace.
Author: Katy McMinn, Director | HRi