Keeping it simple is the key to supporting men’s mental health in business. Going first, being pragmatic and consistently showing up works. But it’s easier said than done for most organisations.
Calling Out The Men
Men’s mental health has been on the agenda for some time now, with trail blazing campaigns like Movember starting in 2006. However in the business world, this area is still undeveloped. When you google support for women in business the list is endless. When you google the same for men, there is no list for them. In fact today when I looked: ‘7 ways men can support women as allies’ [Forbes] was at the top of this list.
The ongoing focus on gender equality is critical, and if we are truly striving for a state of valuing different behaviours, aspirations and needs equally, regardless of gender, we’ve still got a long way to go when it comes to men and emotional wellbeing in the workplace.
Calling Out The Men is the sub brand of Rising Vibe Ltd and focuses on providing emotional support for men in the business world. We are calling it out in 3 ways:
- To the men struggling to come forward and be honest about how they are feeling. We want to encourage and support you to share without shame
- To the men that dismiss and attempt to belittle or demean those men that want to be open about their struggles and vulnerabilities. We know resistance comes from a place of fear and discomfort
- To the women with men in their circle who they suspect are not in a good place. We want to help you face in to this with confidence
We don’t need a reason to feel low
There are many organisations now focused on creating psychological safety to enable open, honest and transparent interactions around, now unfortunately familiar subjects, like suicide, addiction and illness. And we are working with clients and contacts who now feel able to share difficulties and request support with a new sense of confidence. Stories of significant loss, grief, angst and torment are being heard without judgment, and are often being framed as inspirational and moving.
But what about those men without a ‘significant’ story? What about those men that appear to ‘have it all’? That have fantastic careers, are in the high income bracket, have a family, holidays every year and drive an expensive car. What about these men that are struggling in their own way, and yet often believe that they don’t have any reason to feel wretched. What about them? Most of them are suffering in silence, feeling shame, because they don’t have an ‘excuse’. We often don’t know about these men.
Somebody has to go first
We need leaders, peers and team members that are prepared to have the conversations, and ask the questions, that are not always encouraged in the workplace. That might feel a bit awkward and uncomfortable, but are key to building relationships, trust and connection.
To absolutely hold to account around deliverables and objectives and also to check in around how someone is REALLY feeling. To share their own insecurities, to admit when they don’t know or have made a mistake. To meet any ‘toxic behaviours’ with compassion and curiosity, not judgment. Anxiety and anger both come from a place of vulnerability, yet we rarely respond in the same way to both. And we must if we are going to get underneath what is really going on for people.
We need role models in business to go first. To encourage and wait. To revisit and wait. To invite and wait. To encourage, revisit, invite and wait again. To not give up because he didn’t open up straight away. To not give up because the response to this invitation was not what was expected. To know the difference between our own and others’ discomfort, and if it is our own, to be brave enough to stick at it.
It’s ok to talk – but what next?
Men are wired differently to women; they are more physically impulsive, action orientated, more naturally problem solving. The word and emotional centres in the brain are not connected in the same way. This is why ‘talking’ about it must only be the first step.
Yes it’s ‘OK to talk’, but then what? If there is nothing ‘next’, then just talking about it can in fact make the situation worse for some men. Support for action, follow up and next steps is key for men’s mental health, and this must happen consistently.
One off, tick box exercises mean nothing. And achieve not much.
So, to reinforce what I said at the beginning. Keeping it simple is the key to supporting men’s mental health in business. Going first, being pragmatic and consistently showing up works.
More details on Rising Vibe & Calling Out The Men can be found here
About the author
Lou Banks is Founder and Director of Rising Vibe Ltd and Calling Out The Men. Culture Consultants using emotion to drive cultural change in business. Lou is passionate about helping your organisation place wellbeing at the heart of its culture. She’ll show your business how to get to grips with emotion. Tackle thoughts. Address feelings. Because when this happens it can have a huge impact on business performance.
Instigating the conversations that matter, Lou invites the elephant into the room, sits it down in a big comfy chair and makes it a nice cup of tea. Helping individuals, teams and entire organisations think about how our thoughts and feelings drive the way in which we behave and ultimately, how we show up at work. Because when we feel better, we do better.