When my daughter was born it was the best and most difficult time of my life. She was born with an infection called Group B Strep which is serious and life threatening. She had to be resuscitated in one corner of the room and in the other corner my wife was losing lots of blood. We spent 2 weeks in hospital in intensive care and when we got the good news that we could go home, I had a few days at home before my paternity leave finished. I had a weekend at home then it was back to my busy job.
I didn’t take time to process, understand and accept what had happened. My wife and I would be in A&E at least once a week for the first few months as we were so worried about our daughter’s health. I started having flashbacks and nightmares. I became anxious and withdrawn. I find it difficult to perform at work and I would become emotional. I was eventually diagnosed with PTSD around 18 months after my daughter was born and I received help and support. I spoke about this in an in-depth BBC article here.
What really stuck with me is why I didn’t feel that it was safe to share what I was going through with anyone, apart from my wife. Ideas of being a strong man, of not showing vulnerability were dominant. I have also understood how good us humans can be at putting on a brave face to the world.
I became really interested in this and have since dedicated my life’s work to issues around fatherhood, mental health and masculinity. My BBC documentary, Becoming Dad, is the first primetime show of its kind to discuss these issues at length. My work has led me to consult with the NHS to introduce better mental health support and screening for new dads, campaign Government to reform policies and work with organisations to help them support the men and dads in their organisations.
The statistics around men’s mental health
Men’s mental health is such a massively under-discussed topic. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. In my opinion it’s not that men have more challenges than women, but we are not as good at seeking help for or problems early enough. I speak in-depth here around the traditional and outdated) ideas around masculinity that mean men are much less likely to seek support from professional services, colleagues or friendship groups.
To contextualise the extent of the problem:
- In England, around one in eight men has a common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
- 39% of new dads are concerned about their mental health and 1 in 10 new dads will experience some kind of PND symptoms in the first 6 months
- Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women: only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.
- 3 out of every 4 suicides in the UK are men and suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45
Supporting men’s mental health is pivotal for a well-functioning society and healthy families. It’s pivotal to infant development, supporting partners through post-natal depression, enabling healthy relationships and suicide prevention.
The impact of poor men’s mental health in the workplace
When it comes to retention, recruitment, engagement and productivity, ensuring men’s mental health needs to be a priority.
Statistics from Parent Cloud platform tell us:
- Stress, depression and anxiety are responsible for 54% of all working days lost due to health issues
- 55% of workers would seek a new job if their mental health was not being supported by their employer
- Each year it costs businesses £1,300 per employee whose mental health needs are not supported
- Engaged employees bring in 43% more revenue than disengaged ones
What can be done to support men’s mental health in the workplace
Good working practices for all employees will support men’s mental health. This includes good flexible working arrangements, especially as many of us adjust to this new hybrid way of working, empathetic and trained line managers, a real focus on realistic workloads and deadlines and good parental leave packages.
To build on this, employees will benefit from specific mental health support in place through Employee Assistance Programmes and Mental Health First Aiders. This should be supported by a fully developed mental health strategy with clear and well publicised channels for employees to raise concerns and receive support.
But fundamentally it’s about culture and creating an environment where men can be open to speak about their challenges. Changing culture is about leadership, role modelling, communicating and living the values. It’s about a culture of vulnerability. It’s about our inter-personal relationships and how we relate to one-another. It’s how we support and listen. It’s how we create psychologically safe spaces in all our interactions.
For me, this culture change starts with conversation.
I work with all different kind of organisations, from law firms and professional services companies, to engineering organisations with customer facing roles, to retail, to the public sector. Each industry and work environment will have its own unique challenges but many have a common issue; engaging men in vulnerable conversations around mental health, wellbeing and inclusion.
I can help create an open culture around mental health through my workshops and keynotes. My session ‘The Truth about men and dad’s mental health’ has been transformative to help organisations open the conversation about male mental health.
How I can help you to support men’s mental health in your organisation
My work is all about presenting new ideas, creating inclusive environments for open conversations and being a catalyst for culture change. I love to challenge internalised beliefs and highlight how we are all capable and responsible for change. I specialise in supporting dads in the workplace, redefining masculinity, allyship, dad’s and men’s mental health, gender equality, inclusive relationships and creating family friendly workplaces and communities.
I frequently work with HR leads, staff parenting networks, gender networks, D&I teams and leadership teams through workshops and keynotes. I pride myself on providing an excellent service and tailoring my work to provide unique solutions to help address your objectives.
All my sessions are emotive, raw, and powerful. They are grounded in personal stories while incorporating the latest research, data and best practise. I use slido, Q&A and panel discussions to ensure my sessions are interactive and immersive. This is all packaged up in a friendly, personable and relaxed approach with a nice sprinkle of humour.
To help support you to see the culture change you desire, my sessions are supported with carefully crafted communications materials to set the tone for the events and encourage participation before the event. And post-event, I provide toolkits to support team-level conversations using content and outputs from the workshop to facilitate further conversations and embed culture change.
I am all about helping you to achieve your objectives, whether that be launching your parenting network, supporting your colleagues mental health and wellbeing, engaging more men in your DEI and gender equality work, building an inclusive culture with allyship at the core or helping senior leaders to foster more inclusive relationships.
Find out more here