Work more likely to cause mental health issues in men than women

mental health

Men are twice as likely to have mental health issues because of their job compared to problems outside of work, research from the mental health charity Mind has suggested.

The study has come as the Government announced in July a major ramping up of funding for NHS mental health provision.

The research argued that 32% of men attributed poor mental health to their job, compared to 14% who believed it was affected more by problems outside of work.

Women, on the other hand, said their job and problems outside of work were equal contributing factors; one in five (19%) women said their job was the reason for their poor mental health, the same as those who said problems outside of work were to blame.

The research came from a survey of 15,000 employees across 30 organisations, and was released in August as the charity urged employers to sign up to its Workplace Wellbeing Index 2017-18.

The index can be used by employers as a benchmark of best policy and practice when it comes to staff mental health, and is designed to celebrate the good work many employers are doing in this area.

The Mind study also argued that men are less prepared to seek help and take time off than women because of mental ill health.

While two in five (38%) women felt their organisation’s culture made it possible to speak openly about their mental health problems, only 31% of men say the same. Two in five women (43%) had taken time off for poor mental health at some point, but this was only true for 29% of men.

While three in five (58%) women felt their manager regularly checked in on how they were feeling, only 49% of men felt the same.

Three in four (74%) line managers felt confident in supporting a team member with mental health problems. Yet only 60% of male line managers feel they had a good understanding of how to promote the mental wellbeing of staff, compared to 74% of female managers.

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, said: “Many men work in industries where a macho culture prevails or where a competitive environment may exist that prevents them from feeling able to be open. It is concerning that so many men are unable to speak to their bosses about the impact work is having on their wellbeing, and even more worrying that they are then not taking time off when they need it.”

The Mind research is especially timely, given the announcement by health secretary Jeremy Hunt that about 21,000 mental health posts will be created by the NHS by 2021, in a massive expansion of mental health provision and support.

The aim is to treat an extra one million people over the next four years, with mental and physical health services being integrated for the first time. The £1.3 billion initiative is aiming to provide services seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Hunt said: “As we embark on one of the biggest expansions of mental health services in Europe, it is crucial we have the right people in post – that’s why we’re supporting those already in the profession to stay and giving incentives to those considering a career in mental health.”

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