Great strides have been made to raise awareness around the mental health of men in recent years. A good example is men’s health week, which has successfully campaigned on issues like suicide rates. Men are four times as likely as women to take their own life. In fact, it is the biggest killer of Australian men aged 15-44.
Susan McKee, from MAX’s EAP (Employee Assistance Program), says she has seen a big change in attitudes among Australian men over the last five years. “We used to get comparatively few calls from men on mental health issues,” said Susan. “Today, men are just as likely to talk with an expert about mental health as women. I think a lot of the traditional stigma has gone as we see far more guys take to social media and discuss issues like stress and anxiety.”
Given the time many of us spend at our place of employment, it makes sense to try and create an environment which supports good mental health. Whether you are a leader, or a team member, there are tangible actions you can take to help foster this culture as well as to look after your own mental health.
Keeping active has a strong link to maintaining or improving a person’s mental health. When you are in a sedentary job this can make it hard to reach the right levels of physical activity required to keep you and your colleagues healthy. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Here are some suggestions:
- Stand up and stretch: Whether or not your work provides stand up desks, or you have your own, try to get on your feet for 15 minutes every hour. At the same time, give your muscles a stretch too. This will go a long way to reducing the impact of sitting down all day. It might encourage other colleagues to have a bit of a stretch too.
- Take a class: Gyms offer a lot of options for physical activity that fit within a regular lunch break. Getting in a session or two a week will do wonders for your mentality at work. Many companies these days offer subsidised gym membership or periodic meditation and yoga classes for free. So, there is no excuse not to get moving!
- Take the stairs: If your desk is on the 15th floor, your team mates will understand if you take the elevator! But, if you can get off the bus at an earlier stop, or park your car a little further away, it all helps build up those incidental cardio minutes.
Fixing your diet is another way to look after your mental health and with three out of four Australian men overweight or obese it’s a serious health issue. As a general rule, load up on those fruit and veg and stay away from saturated fats and processed foods.
Changing your diet doesn’t just help keep your body running well but will keep your mind clear and help you avoid those sluggish afternoons.
If you eat out with friends from work a lot, good on you. You don’t want to lose those social interactions with mates. Just try to swap out the cheeseburger for a salad wrap every now and then!
It is important to speak up if something is bothering you at work, that’s what your bosses are there for. What if it is something more personal though? Something that isn’t quite appropriate to vent with colleagues around the watercooler. Engaging with your company’s employee assistance program (EAP) is a completely anonymous and free way to talk some things through with a professional.
EAPs are provided by qualified psychologists and social workers to provide short-term support that allows individuals to access timely and effective guidance and support.
MAX offers an EAP service nationally that includes HR coaching, critical incident management and a range of resources for employees. If your company is looking to engage with an EAP service or you are looking for some resources to help you, your team, or your colleagues follow the link here