Why supporting men's mental health leads to stronger businesses

Why supporting men's mental health leads to stronger businesses

When I stop posting 20 Instagram stories a day, my friends know something's up. This is when they check in with me to make sure I'm doing okay.

As women, we inherently feel comfortable talking about what's bothering us with those we feel closest to. But some men are wired differently and are brought up to think quite the opposite.

That's why with this week being Men's Mental Health Week, I thought it would be appropriate to call upon some friends from the Young Entrepreneur community to speak with them about how raising awareness of men's mental health is not only crucial, but can also help build stronger and better businesses.

The stigma (let's break it!)

We all have special men in our lives - husbands, fathers, brothers, friends, and sons to name a few.

Typically, men are taught to be tough; to be providers of safety, security, and strength. Not only for themselves but for their partners and families too. These men often survive their toughest moments as a lone wolf - until they can't anymore.

With a focus on Men's Health Week, earlier this week Australian Men's Health Forum chief executive Glen Poole said men in Australia die six years younger than women on average and account for four in five heart deaths under the age of 65. Three in four suicides and two in three preventable deaths are - you guessed it - male fatalities, as per a report published by the Australian Men's Health Forum.

It ain't weak to speak

There are many amazing organisations that do great work towards supporting men's mental health and breaking the stigma around seeking help.

For example, the LIVIN organisation, founded on the Gold Coast by Sam Webb and Casey Lyons, focuses on breaking this stigma with its mantra "It Ain't Weak to Speak", and through a number of education programs.

Since its foundation, with the help of generous donations, LIVIN has reached 86,655 people with its message.

Another organisation that is supporting men's wellness and founded by a fellow Young Entrepreneur is Julian Pace's Happiness Co.

In 2018, the WA-based organisation established the 'Man Enough' movement to give men skills and tools to support them through life's challenges.

By improving the way men view vulnerability, Happiness Co. believes it can make a fundamental difference in the way men view times of unhappiness and sadness - ultimately saving lives by showing men they are not alone and there is light.

Julian says said he has worked with over 1,000 men this week through their online programs, live events and one-on-one coaching.

Happiness Co's focus this week was on exploring the topic of how to be brave. Julian got men to consider the biggest stressors in their lives, and together they identified steps to overcome this - offering them the skills and support they needed.

Julian said only 25 per cent of the people they currently work with were men.

"It's typically harder to get men to analyse their thoughts and emotions in order to improve their overall happiness and wellbeing," said Julian.

"It was great to spend this week focussing on men's mental health, and we hope more men will be brave enough to seek help when they need to."

There are also a number of individuals tackling the issue head-on, turning their life's work and businesses into supporting men.

Recently, I spoke with Ben Salkeld who started the Rising Kings brotherhood out of Sydney. This holistic program is proven to help men recalibrate every aspect of their life, reclaim their true identity, and thrive in their later years.

Ben's organisation intercepts at the time where men need help juggling their many responsibilities in life, yet they feel alone or too ashamed to seek it.

One familiar face to the Young Entrepreneur community who has gone through the Rising Kings 12-week program is Leigh Rust - the co-founder and director of the Australian Manufacturing company Safetyline Jalousie.

Speaking of his time with Rising Kings, Leigh states "(the program) offers a great platform where like-minded people can come together, and work on themselves -   something which we may not prioritise - which in turn will make us better partners, fathers and business leaders".

Leigh's involvement in Rising Kings included overcoming some pretty intense mental and physical challenges, including a recent 48-hour straight adventure race called Geo Quest, something Leigh claims was the hardest thing he has ever done in his life.

 

 

Leigh is also a firm believer in giving back to the community and recognises its importance in fulfilling his potential as a business leader. Leigh, along with his team at Safetyline Jalousie, participated in Movember to raise money for and awareness of men's health issues.

Movember is geared towards and focused on changing the face of men's health, whether that be mental or physical. Since 2003, the leading charity has challenged the status quo and set some big goals such as the current aim to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25 per cent by 2025.

COVID and mental health

Most people would agree that it's hard to pick up when someone is down due to how frightfully disengaged society can be in this pandemic-altered world - either socially or at work.

I've lost count of the times I have had this conversation with Tanya Abbey, the CEO of Black Wolf Group, who initially reached out at the onset of the Covid pandemic to see how I, a complete stranger, was coping.

We are so used to communicating through technology that it's quite easy to forget to genuinely check in to see if those you talk to are okay.

It's important to be mindful of the struggles people go through, especially with the array of issues that COVID has brought to the surface.

As an advocate for supporting men's mental health, Tanya raised a valid point on how men pick up on the effort that goes into actually getting to know them and spending time with them.

"At present in recruitment, one should take into consideration that the pandemic and its effect on job security has left many Australians with anxiety surrounding the future of their careers and financial stability," Abbey said.

Tanya explained that starting a conversation with someone who you think may be suffering with mental health doesn't have to be as difficult as we think.

"Talk about anything," she said.

"You never know what a simple conversation about sports or their families can bring up."

Black Wolf Group CEO Tanya Abbey

Building a stronger, better workplace

Tanya believes working towards building strong and more effective workplaces comes from employees' needs to feel like included and appreciated members of a team.

"Nowadays, people are inclined to take their work satisfaction and happiness seriously, rather than stay in jobs which bore them or are stable but are not good for their mental health," she said.

"As businesses leaders, it's important to be there for your employees, not only with great HR departments (if you're big enough) but with a genuine interest in their health and happiness.

"Your home environment and your work environment can play an immense part in your mental state and overall feeling of contentment or satisfaction.".

Ben of Rising Kings follows on from this point, confirming that from the 800 men he has spoken to about this, the common issue is that they chase promotions or career changes when the real problem is internal.

He also shared that in terms of awareness of what men (and millions of others) are going through, podcasts and books are a good way to start exploring the topic. However, "at the end of the day, you're going to have to start opening up to those around you that are asking questions."

In conclusion

I have to say, I can relate to the 'lone wolf' mentality that a lot of men hold. When something is bothering me, I tend to go silent and try and solve my problems independently, as I always have.

Throughout my life, I have seen this same issue occur with my male loved ones too.

That's why I encourage you to spread awareness and work towards breaking the stigma that 'it's weak to speak up', and to seek help this Men's Mental Health Week (and every other week!).

The men in our lives are special, let's support them and let them know.

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