Men's Mental Health in the Workplace

A business man buttoning up his blazer on the stairs

Men’s Mental Health in the Workplace

As a Man there has been an expectation throughout much of life to behave in a certain way. This way is to effectively bottle things up, to deal with them in isolation; “man-up” and work through it yourself, was an all-too-common phrase. Even in the recent past, if a man showed emotion, they were degraded as “soft” or other negative stereotypes.

This cultural stereotype has put men in a position which, especially in the workplace, is perceived as a sign of weakness if they admit any fallibility. One example of this from the early 2000’s, was in the Ashes cricket tour of England’s men’s cricket team to Australia. Typically, during this tour, the men are away from family, children and friends for months on end and are isolated with only other cricket players and the team staff. One payer, Marcus Trescothick, was a top-class batsman, with an excellent England record and one day on tour, spoke out about his feelings…how he needed to go home, to recover. The press and then the public picked up on this, with headlines such as “he’s let his country down”; “what’s wrong with him, he gets paid a lot of money to play cricket” all building on a time where poor mental health was considered a real stigma. Thankfully after this, due to a lot of high-profile incidents and a paradigm shift in the discussions around mental health, it began to change. Now, some 20 odd years on, it is an accepted part of society, that mental health is something we all experience on an ever-changing spectrum and a range of support agencies, networks and therapeutic interventions can help men (and women) relieve their stresses and get the help and support when they need it.

What can managers do to ensure their team is invested in their own self-care?


The door will be open to all team members to approach their manager about any issue, whether personal, work related or a mixture of both. By a manager showing empathy for the situation and really listening and wanting to enable the staff member to succeed, this empowers the team member to come forward and express their feelings more regularly. This then will lead by example to other team members and the general culture will be reflective. Organisations can also ensure that their HR Policy demonstrates an investment in mental health and wellbeing and that there are trained mental health first aiders in their workplace. 


A trainer I came across is an example of male stereotypes. His ethos was work and work more, until he eventually really suffered with a mental health breakdown and suicidal tendencies, and he could not work in that environment again. Often men can experience “burnout” and sadly one symptom of that is to not see how in need of time out that you are. He realised, looking back, that he was in work for 60 hours per week, but was less productive than when he worked 40.

I really could relate to this personally. In a previous role some years ago, I always felt comfortable to do my work in the allocated hours, and only at exceptional circumstances, would be expected to work additional hours. This enabled me to work “awake”, spot trends and patterns, look past the wallpaper and in depth at the projects I was working on. In another role however, asking for support was frowned upon, and leaving at your finishing time considered arrogant and not a team player. By falling into this culture, all staff were over worked, disillusioned and unmotivated, and sickness levels rose sharply. This spiral led to those in work being pressured into working extra time, for free, which in turn further effected health, physical and mental, and even impacted outside relationships.

Seeing the signs

Do your team have their lunch break? If not, they are not recharging their mind, engaging with colleagues and may struggle to concentrate in the afternoon’s.

Is one of your team not themselves for a length of time out of the norm? They may have circumstances change and they are struggling to cope, so things change. Maybe personal appearance, standard of work, engagement or other obvious significant behavioural differences.

Action Plan Summary

An open-door policy – for team members to talk honestly.

Wellbeing days off – no questions asked, but somebody available if they need to speak.

Mental health first aid training for team members – can this be as important as first aid in the business.

Finally, and the most important, listen to what they are actually saying. Once they have finished, relay your understanding, maybe take a break and find support or areas of need to enable them to feel understood, valued and keep fulfilling their potential.