The Changing Landscape Of Masculinity And Men’s Mental Health In The Workplace

Bernie Wong | Senior Associate, Mind Share Partners

This article was originally published on Forbes. Go here to read more of Mind Share Partners' Forbes features.

November is widely known as “Movember,” attributable to the organization that’s dedicated to raising awareness about health issues specific to men such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men's suicide and mental health. When it comes to mental health, “the numbers for suicide are actually going in the wrong direction in the U.S., as well as globally,” shared Mark Hedstrom, Movember’s U.S. executive director. “About 800,000 individuals take their own lives globally and 500,000 of those are men. When we look at the trend in the U.S. context, about 75% of those suicides are men.” 

We talked with Hedstrom further as well as Dr. Zac Seidler, Movember’s director of health professional training, to learn more about what’s contributing to the unwavering stigma surrounding men’s mental health both in and outside of the workplace.

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Stereotypes Strengthen The Stigma 

Traditional beliefs about what it means to be a man have historically focused on stoic confidence, discouraging emotional expression. In a Movember study conducted this year, 58% of men reported that they think society expects them to be emotionally strong and not show weakness in front of others. This has real impacts—Mind Share Partners “Mental Health at Work 2019 Report found that men were significantly less likely to have sought treatment for mental health despite similar rates in the overall prevalence of mental health symptoms.

According to Seidler, financial and career fears based in gender stereotypes play a part in the ongoing stigma surrounding men’s mental health as well. In the Movember study, 34% of U.S. men fear their job could be at risk if they discussed their mental health at work. “For many men, holding down a job and being able to provide and take care of their family is still a central part of being a man,” Seidler explained. “If they feel they aren’t living up to that standard, they class themselves as failures.”