Men's mental health: Two young men with pretend mustaches

November: Men’s Mental Health

Workplace Mental Health

November is Men’s Month

It’s that time of year when various brave souls grow a mo’ to raise money for a bro’. Yes, it’s Movember. Now celebrated throughout the world, Movember is arguably the most publicised and successful men’s health campaign ever and workplace mental health is a growing area of concern for employers.

November is also the month that we celebrate International Men’s Day. A day to focus on boys’ and men’s health, promote improvement in gender relations and celebrate the positive role models males can be in society and the workplace.

We therefore thought it was a good time of the year for us to dig into the national data and find out what we can all do to improve the safety of young working men as part of a workplace mental health program.

Data Crunching

To do this we accessed the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s, Leading Causes of Death data. We identified the top 20 causes for males aged 15-24. We also identified the top 20 causes for males aged 25-44. Due to the similarities, we added the data to identify the top 3 across the total age range.

Top 3 Causes of Death

The top 3 causes of death for males aged 15 to 44 are

  • Suicide 23%
  • Land Transport 13%
  • Accidental Poisoning 10%

Reducing Risk

Mental health is the topic of much debate for policy makers and the media. Unfortunately, it has been for some time now. It’s staggering to think that nearly a quarter of all male deaths 15 to 44 die at their own hand. For 15 to 24 year olds this rises to over 29%. Clearly this problem has no simple solution but that shouldn’t stop us from acting. What has this got to do with work?

It’s well documented that work plays a significant role in a person’s sense of self-worth. Like school, work can be a source of new supportive friendships but it can also be a source of bullying. Work pressures or sense of failure can absolutely contribute to a suicide. The workplace can even be the location that someone chooses for their suicide, causing terrible trauma to co-workers. Due to the influence our work has on us all, it can be a valuable weapon in the battle against mental ill-health and the resultant risk of suicide.

Here’s some questions to consider about your workplace:

  • Have your supervisors and managers provided with the necessary development to ensure they have the skills to respectfully obtain the best from their people?
  • Have you implemented policies and procedures to minimise the risk of bullying and harassment? Do you monitor and verify that controls are working? Are all reports investigated in a professional manner?
  • Are roles, complaint processes and escalation pathways clearly defined and readily accessible?
  • Does your Health & Safety consultation arrangement (e.g. WHS committee) have mental health within its documented scope?
  • Do you include psychological risk in your risk assessments – e.g. risk of claustrophobia in confined spaces or acrophobia when working at height, how about including mental trauma as a potential consequence, such as for bank works who are involved in a robbery or lone workers who could be the victim of a verbally or physically assaulted?
  • Do you consider mental health risk to workers as part of business decision making – e.g. ensuring open and honest communication and support throughout down-sizing, considering the extra workload on workers when not replacing people who leave, considering work-life balance when modifying shift arrangements, avoiding redundancy leading up to Christmas holidays, etc.
  • Are there Human Resources or other specialists support roles within the business who have the expertise to assist your people in tough times?
  • Does your organisation have a well-resourced and communicated Employee Assistance Program?

This is not an exhaustive list of actions to take to improve mental health in your workplace but it’s certainly a start.

In future articles, we will consider how the workplace can manage the next two biggest risks, vehicle use and hazardous chemicals.

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more about how OSHEM Solutions can assist you with a range of risk management programs, call 1300 657 279 or Contact Us by email.