Today, we’re celebrating International Men’s’ Day to help raise awareness around men’s health, violence and their portrayal in the media. In Great Britain, 75% of suicides are male* - suicide being the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 in England and Wales. In the workplace, 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions and two thirds of men said that they’d been so stressed at some point over the past year that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. However, women are more likely to receive treatment for all mental health conditions, a fact which can be attributed to the stigma around men's mental health and the pressure of societal expectations and gender roles.
While this year has seen gender pay gap data published and the #MeToo movement continue, it certainly feels like men have copped a lot of criticism. It is important that we are fighting for progress and having these conversations but putting blame on the majority is not the solution nor is it enough to trigger change on a greater scale. It’s important to remember that majorities, or those with privilege, can also experience issues shaped by society and bear the brunt of misconceptions. Men need to be brought into the conversation, rather than be excluded from it for having that privilege.
As an organisation, your Diversity & Inclusion strategy should recognise the intersection between gender and other factors such as race and sexuality which can compound the challenges affecting men. With only 24% of men discussing the high level of stress they have experienced with a friend of family member, there is an opportunity for employers to offer support and encourage men to open up and seek help when they are struggling.
When we talk about diversity, it’s easy to forget the majority. This is why your inclusion strategy should be for the benefit of all; when you offer mental health support, maternity/paternity leave, a healthy work-life balance and provide the right platform to discuss issues, everyone benefits.