Quarter of UK employees struggling to cope at work

This World Mental Health Day (10th October) is an opportunity for employers to refocus on employer duty of care and support, and help employees rebuild their resilience after the pandemic.

Business person on laptop looking stressed
A study by affordable private medical-cover company, Lime Global, asks how employers can help employees bounce back from the pandemic at a time when many are putting a brave face on at work, especially men.Lime Global’s Keeping Up Appearances: How pleasanteeism is eroding resilience report finds “workplace pleasanteeism” is rife. Over a quarter (26%) of UK employees feel as though they’re struggling to cope at work. However, more than half (51%) believe they have to hide these feelings by putting on a brave face in front of their colleagues. 
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‘Prioritise employee wellbeing’

Shaun Williams, CEO & Founder at Lime Global, comments, “World Mental Health Day acts as a timely reminder that employers have a clear responsibility to prioritise employee wellbeing and tackle the phenomenon of pleasanteeism once and for all.“With employees returning to the workplace, and many people’s resilience under greater strain as winter sets in, it’s more important than ever that employers open up the conversation about mental health at work.”

Gender gap in seeking wellbeing support 

Further, new research from Towergate Health & Protection released in the lead-up to World Mental Health Day further shows male employees are not accessing mental health support in the same numbers as women.Figures from one of its leading employee assistance programme (EAP) providers show a significant variance in the numbers of men and women seeking support, with twice as many women than men are asking for help with emotional wellbeing. Over the last year, 56% of all calls to the EAP were made by women and only 29.5% by men (14.5% were unspecified), which is a long-standing pattern says the independent health insurance broker. The majority of calls to EAP helplines are regarding mental health issues, with anxiety and low mood being by far the most common reasons for seeking help. These insights come as global management consultant McKinsey published its seventh Women in the Workplace survey, which finds that “women are now significantly more burned out – and increasingly more so than men.” 

Impact of poor mental wellbeing

While data shows that women are generally more likely to suffer from mental health conditions and are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, men are three times more likely to take their own life.“It could well be that the fact that men are less likely to seek support may be the reason that they are more likely to die by taking their own life,” says Brett Hill, distribution director at Towergate Health & Protection, “so we are urging employers to tackle the issue.” Brett Hill says: “Our figures clearly show that many more women seek support. The help and guidance needed is available and is already being accessed by women. The task, therefore, is to make men more comfortable in asking for help when they need it.” 

Mental wellbeing support for men - actions for employers

Towergate Health & Protection outlines some of the actions employers can take to increase support for men.These include:
•    Specifically target communications to men regarding mental health support 
•    Piggyback national awareness days relevant to men, eg Movember, Father’s Day, Men’s Health Week
•    Create a men’s forum and ask them what would encourage them to seek help
•    Emphasise that help is confidential
•    Show (anonymised) case-studies of men that have accessed help
•    Consider having a male champion at work to encourage accessing help
•    Consider having men at work talking about how they have accessed help
•    Lead from the top. 

“This is a solvable issue,” concludes Brett Hill. “Many employers will already have the resources to offer support, but those who do not should consider putting them in place. It is all about making access visible, easy and stigma-free.”  

Creating safe places for men to have conversations

Business coach Lewis Haydon also highlights how coaching can help men open up, access advice and support this World Mental Health Day and beyond.Using his experience of working with clients in traditionally male-dominated sectors, Lewis Haydon says, “It’s hugely important that clients feel they are in a safe space to talk about the pressures they are facing, both from a business perspective and a personal one.“Growth happens as a result of open and honest communication, so we encourage our clients to have discussions with their employees and not shy away from having difficult conversations. “From our experience, those 'difficult conversations' enable the team to address issues, learn and progress, and, as a result, their business thrives.“This is the case across all sectors, whether it be a mixed, or predominantly male, environment – and it matters hugely no matter what industry you are in.”

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