To mark Men’s Health Awareness Month, International SOS, the world’s leading health and security risk services company, emphasises the importance of creating a supportive workplace environment that fosters men’s health and mental wellbeing.
Men’s health remains a significant concern and poorer health profiles for men than for women have been reported, with discrepancies found in metrics including life expectancy, mortality rates, disability-adjusted life years, and non-sex-specific disease death rates.1 The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that non-communicable diseases (NCDs), are claiming around 74% of all lives lost each year2, and in 2018, NCDs and injuries accounted for 86% of all male fatalities.3
The WHO data shows that men across all socioeconomic groups demonstrate unhealthier smoking practices, unhealthier dietary patterns, higher alcohol consumption levels and higher rates of injuries than women.3 In fact, among the global population that used tobacco in 2020, a significantly higher percentage were men (36.7%), compared to women (7.8%).4 These statistics highlight the need to focus on improving men’s health and organisations can play a vital role in enhancing men’s health within their workplaces.
Men are significantly less likely than women to seek preventive care services, which can often lead to undiagnosed conditions.1 Men are also found to be less likely to have received mental health treatment than women. The stigma attached to illness and men perceiving illness as a weakness are often found to be the reasons why men are not as vocal about their health and mental wellbeing concerns.5
Dr Anthony Renshaw, Regional Medical Director at International SOS, said “Men’s Health Awareness Month provides a crucial opportunity for organisations to re-evaluate their approach to supporting the health and wellbeing of male employees. In addition to physical health, we must also prioritise mental health, as it has a direct impact on overall productivity and workplace satisfaction. Employers can play a pivotal role in fostering open discussions, reducing stigma, and promoting a supportive environment for men to seek the help they may need.”
International SOS offers guidelines for organisations to provide workplace support specific for men’s health and wellbeing with the ‘H-O-P-E’ approach:
- Hold workplace men’s forum that can act as a safe space. Having a supportive work environment where everyone, particularly men, know that they are allowed the time to address any health concerns is extremely enabling.
- Offer male-specific confidential support from mental health professionals.
- Provide your team leads with appropriate training to enable them to spot early signs of poor physical and mental health and know where they can signpost their employees to.
- Encourage employees to have regular health check-ups, particularly screening for early detection and treatment of NCDs, as well as a mental health assessment if needed.
- The World Journal of Men’s Health | Changing Men’s Health: Leading the Future
- World Health Organization (WHO) | Noncommunicable Diseases Fact sheet
- World Health Organization (WHO) | Men’s Health Fact sheet
- World Health Organization (WHO) | Tobacco Fact sheet
- National Institute of Mental Health | Men and Mental Health