How to Better Support Men’s Mental Health in the Contact Centre

Mental health concept with silhouette of head
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Quick Overview

With men consistently accounting for three out of every four suicide cases,1 change is desperately needed, and small changes can make a big difference, including:

  1. Making Mental Health Part of Everyday Conversations
  2. Showing Your Vulnerable Side Too
  3. Mental Health Awareness Training

Gemma Carter-Morris, Director of Wellbeing and Client Relationships at Next Steps Consulting, puts the spotlight on the alarming statistics around men’s mental health.


Is There Really a Difference Between Male and Female Mental Health?

Sadly, the answer is yes.

77% of men have suffered with common mental health symptoms like anxiety, stress or depression.2

Yet, generally speaking, men are less likely to talk to their friends about their problems, more likely to hide their feelings behind macho pride, and probably don’t have as good a support network as women either.

All of this means that when they are struggling with stresses in their life, they’re far more likely to be trying to manage their feelings alone – and the impact of this is alarming, as the statistics show:

  • 40% of men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health2
  • Men are three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent3
  • 36% of men say they don’t want to be a burden to anyone by sharing their problems2
  • 29% say that they’re embarrassed to talk2
  • 20% feel there’s a negative stigma around mental health2

Men are also far less likely to seek professional help – with 25% of men saying they wouldn’t feel comfortable speaking to their GP or any other professional about their mental health, and men only accounting for 36% of those accessing any kind of therapies or counselling.3

This results in more treatment and more reactive interventions being needed further down the line, compared to seeking help early on with more proactive, less intrusive interventions.

All of this adds up and creates a unique challenge around men’s mental health, which more managers need to tune into to better support the men in their teams.

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How Can Managers Better Support the Men in Their Teams?

With so much stigma, you can begin to understand why many managers don’t even really know where to start with having positive conversations with their teams around mental health.

So here are some practical steps managers can take to proactively support their whole team (including men) on a journey to better mental health:

1. Make Mental Health Part of Everyday Conversations

It’s so easy to get caught up in work chat about what needs doing and when, but remembering to ask how people are feeling can make a big difference.

It’s so easy to get caught up in work chat about what needs doing and when, but remembering to ask how people are feeling can make a big difference.

Try starting all one-to-one meetings with a genuine “how are you?”, “how’s your daughter?” type approach, and taking a genuine interest in the wellbeing of the men (and women) in your team.

You could also pencil in regular “coffee and chat” sessions just for men, to provide a safe space where they can share their experiences and tips for better managing their mental health.

Of course, you can introduce wider groups for mental health support too, but a male-only group may prove more effective in helping them to open up and let down their guard – without feeling embarrassed in front of female colleagues.

2. Show Your Vulnerable Side Too

Leaders really have to practise what they preach here!

One way to support men’s mental health is for managers show their own vulnerabilities and open up, as this really helps to set a good example and makes everyone feel more comfortable – particularly if male leaders can strive to do this.

Shared experience and knowledge concept with two heads

This can be amplified by board members talking opening about their personal struggles with mental health.

This all helps to break down some of the stigma.

You could also try asking men working at all levels across the contact centre to share their stories and experiences. Publishing these across your Teams or Slack channels (or similar) can all help to show men that they are not alone.

3. Mental Health Awareness Training

Don’t assume everyone is at the same level of awareness. It can be tough for managers to recognize the signs that the men in their team may be struggling, so this is where Mental Health Awareness Training or Mental Health First Aider training can really benefit everyone.

If nothing else, this should arm managers with that bit more understanding of the behavioural, emotional and physical signs to look out for in any men that may be struggling in their team.

For example, if they are a bit more emotional than usual, not able to concentrate, or lacking in motivation, or you physically notice a change of appearance (e.g. weight loss, not looking as tidy in their general appearance).

4. Start Using ALEC to Shape Positive Conversations About Mental Health

If you can’t afford formal training right now, you could use the ALEC acronym for a beginner’s guide to having some of these conversations with your male team members.

ASK

Ask: “Are you okay? I’ve noticed that you don’t seem yourself / aren’t joining us for a coffee break any more…”

LISTEN

Then really listen. Don’t just think about what you’re going to say next. Take a breath and tune into what they’re saying.

Letting someone just talk – without judgement – can be so powerful and helpful, as you’re giving them someone to offload to.

ALEC Acronym - Ask, Listen, Encourage Action, Check In

ENCOURAGE ACTION

Try to wrap up the conversation by encouraging some action.

For example, asking “what’s the one thing that you could do to help yourself or move a step closer to how you would like to feel?”

CHECK IN

Once you’ve had that initial conversation, don’t just forget about it.

At the end of the conversation, say, “I’ll check back in with you next week, if that’s OK?”

When you’re going through a rough time, it means a lot to know that someone else is thinking of you.

5. Signposting to Other Resources

It can also be really helpful to signpost men to support services they might not know about.

For example, pointing them at your employee assistance programme, or relevant charities and mental health organizations, including:

There are also charities out there that are just for men, including:

6. Watch Charity Webinars Together

A lot of charities run regular webinars with support and advice.

Why not book a meeting room and watch them together with the men in your team – with opportunity to discuss what you’ve all learnt afterwards?

7. Recognize Awareness Days

Everyone across the contact centre should be more aware of the challenges men are facing.
So why not recognize awareness days – including International Men’s Day and Men’s Health Week – across the year with posters, inviting guest speakers in, and more.

Top Tip – Awareness days are great, but sometimes you’re in danger of focusing on this and then forgetting about it next month. Make sure you continue the conversation across the year too.

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We Can All Make a Difference

Gemma Carter-Morris
Gemma Carter-Morris

When we understand that men are less likely to reach out for support, we can all play our part in helping open up that dialogue with men.

Making positive changes – like those mentioned above – can also help men to feel psychologically safe within their contact centre workplace, so that they can share how they’re feeling and can reach out for help without fear of repercussion. It might even save a life.

References

1 – According to the Office for National Statistics on Suicides in the UK: ‘Around three-quarters of suicides were males (4,129 deaths; 74.0%), consistent with long-term trends, and equivalent to 16.0 deaths per 100,000, the rate for females was 5.5 deaths per 100,000.’

2 – According to Priory Group – 77% of men polled have suffered with common mental health symptoms like anxiety, stress or depression

3 – Mens Health Forum – Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women)

Thanks to Gemma Carter-Morris, Director of Wellbeing and Client Relationships at Next Steps Consulting, for this article.

If you are looking for more information on supporting your team’s health and wellbeing, read these articles next:

Author: Guest Author
Reviewed by: Megan Jones

Published On: 14th Jun 2023 - Last modified: 15th Nov 2023
Read more about - Call Centre Management, , , ,

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