Men are less likely to seek medical help for mental health problems and also less likely to disclose mental health problems to friends and family, despite a third of fathers saying they regularly felt burnt out, and so this Father’s Day, RedArc is calling for employers to do more to support dads in the workplace.
RedArc knows that alongside the excitement of becoming a new parent, the responsibility can lay heavily on the shoulders of fathers. Unfortunately that burden of responsibility can become overwhelming for some as sleepless nights and exhaustion increase anxieties, ranging from concerns about the child, relationships with the mother, financial worries, health matters and pressures in the workplace from heavy workloads and the responsibility of possibly being a main breadwinner.
Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc says:
“It doesn’t have to be a macho- or testosterone-fueled environment for a male member of staff to feel under pressure but understandably few employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns in any depth with a line manager or HR department. And sometimes it’s not obvious for the HR department to even determine who needs help – men are particularly adept at hiding symptoms which unfortunately can exacerbate mental health conditions and lead to longer recovery times.”
Employers really need to make support for mental health conditions accessible with the least amount of fuss or embarrassment to staff – particularly men. Whilst ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ for many women, men are generally much more reluctant to open up to people they know for fear that it signals a weakness.
Christine Husbands, continued:
“An employer-sponsored but independent expert can help alleviate employee worries, and support the individual into making a quicker, fuller recovery and managing a return to work, if appropriate. However, many employees don’t know that their employer offers support of this sort as it is either not communicated at all, or communicated poorly. In the case of many men, it may fall on deaf ears if the individual is not in need of support at that particular time. We’d encourage employers to create a programme of regular communication with their staff about mental health issues to ensure that all members of staff are aware of whatever support is available – when they most need it.”
5 tips for communicating mental health programmes to staff:
- Making it clear what support you offer by discussing what non-financial benefits are available via existing PMI, group risk or EAP schemes and make sure you cater for different life stages – younger fathers may have different pressures from older fathers
- Create a programme of communication that highlights what is available across different channels – intranet, email, social media, posters, flyers, etc.
- Create a way that staff can ask for help with the least possible fanfare – ideally directly to an employer-sponsored third-party organisation, or perhaps a specific email address such as ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ to an expert member of staff .
- Don’t stop talking once a referral or diagnosis has been made – the likelihood is that that member of staff may need support for a very long time, but do respect the privacy of the employee, access to independent support can help
- Don’t assume that you know the best way to support an employee, often it is most effective for the employer to ask what they can best do to help – the answer may be surprisingly simple.
Christine Husbands concluded:
“Let’s celebrate Father’s Day by pledging that the dads in our workplaces will receive the mental health support that they need and that it will be accessible in the discreet manner in which they require.”