Are men more likely to experience work-related mental health problems?

Mind, the leading mental health charity, has just reported on survey indicating that men are twice as likely to have mental health problems due to their job, compared to problems outside of work.

One in three men (32%) attribute poor mental health to their job. That’s more than double the men (14%) who say it’s problems outside of work. Women, on the other hand, say that their job and problems outside of work are equal contributing factors; one in five women say that their job is the reason for their poor mental health, the same as those who say problems outside of work is to blame (19%)

These figures come from Mind’s survey research comes from a survey of 15,000 employees across 30 organisations.

The data also show that men are less prepared to seek help and take time off than women. While nearly two in five women feel the culture in their organisation makes it possible to speak openly about their mental health problems, fewer than one in three men say the same. More than two in five women have taken time off for poor mental health at some point in their career, but this is true for fewer than one in three men.

This suggests that although men are more likely to have mental health problems because of their job, women are more likely to open up and seek support from their line manager or employer. Previous Mind research suggests that men often try to find ways of dealing with their problems independently rather than reaching out and sharing their problems. Instead of talking about their problems, men prefer to watch TV, exercise or self-medicate, such as drink alcohol.

The findings show a difference in how men and women feel they’re being supported in the workplace. While nearly three in five women feel their manager regularly checks in on how they are feeling, only half of men feel the same.

 Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said: “Our research shows that work is the main factor causing men poor mental health, above problems outside work. Many men work in industries where a macho culture prevails or where a competitive environment may exist which prevents them from feeling able to be open. It is concerning that so many men find themselves unable to speak to their bosses about the impact that work is having on their wellbeing and even more worrying that they are then not asking to take time off when they need it. Our research shows that the majority of managers feel confident in supporting employees with mental health problems, but they can only offer extra support if they’re aware there is a problem”.

“In the last few years, we’ve seen employers come on leaps and bounds when it comes to tackling stress and supporting the mental wellbeing of their staff, including those with a diagnosed mental health problem. However, there is more to do and employers do need to recognise the different approaches they may need to adopt in how they address mental health in the workplace”.

There is much in the data from Mind which I would recognise from my work as a therapist, counselling in Hastings in East Sussex. But I also have noticed in recent years that whatever the source of their emotional issues, men are increasingly likely to seek professional help. I hope that this marks a long-term trend in our society, so that men are less likely to view their problems through the bottom of a beer glass, to resort to uncontrolled anger to relieve their feelings, or to use other socially dysfunctional outlets.