Mind survey finds men more likely to experience work-related mental health problems

New research from Mind suggests 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 per cent) attribute poor mental health to their job, compared to one in seven men (14 per cent) 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 per cent).

The research comes from a survey of 15,000 employees across 30 organisations. The data also shows that men are less prepared to seek help and take time off than women. While two in five women (38 per cent) feel the culture in their organisation makes it possible to speak openly about their mental health problems, only one in three men (31 per cent) say the same. Two in five women (43 per cent) have taken time off for poor mental health at some point in their career, but this is true for just one in three men (29 per cent).

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 also show a difference in how men and women feel they’re being supported in the workplace. While three in five women (58 per cent) feel their manager regularly checks in on how they are feeling, only half of men (49 per cent) feel the same.

However, the results show that line managers feel confident in supporting employees with mental health problems. Three in four line managers (74 per cent) feel confident in supporting a team member with mental health problems. Although the results show a discrepancy between how male and female line managers feel they promote workplace wellbeing: only three in five male line managers (60 per cent) feel they have a good understanding of how to promote the mental wellbeing of staff, compared to three in four female line managers (74 per cent).

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.”

Matt Pearce