• Men twice as likely to blame mental ill-health on work than women

  • 9 Aug 2017
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‘Macho cultures’ preventing many from opening up, says expert

Men are more likely than women to experience mental ill-health because of work, research released today has found.

Around a third (32 per cent) of male respondents to a survey by mental health charity Mind attributed poor mental health to their job, compared to one in seven (14 per cent) who said it was down to problems outside of work. On the other hand, the proportion of women who blamed their job for mental ill-health (19 per cent) was equal to the proportion who cited factors outside of work.

The research, which surveyed 15,000 employees from 30 organisations, of which 1,763 are currently experiencing poor mental health, also revealed that, while two in five women (38 per cent) felt their company’s culture made it possible to speak openly about their mental health problems, only around one in three men (31 per cent) agreed. Meanwhile, 43 per cent of women had taken time off work for poor mental health, compared with 29 per cent of men.

“Many men work in industries where a macho culture prevails or where a competitive environment may exist, which prevents them from feeling able to be open,” said Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind. “It is concerning that so many men find themselves unable to speak to their bosses about the impact that work is having on their wellbeing, and even more worrying that they are then not asking to take time off when they need it. There is more to do and employers do need to recognise the different approaches they may need to adopt in how they address mental health.”

Cary Cooper, 50th anniversary professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School and president of the CIPD, told People Management that, while women tend to juggle home and work, men “still get their main identity from their job”.  

“The interface between home and work for women can be equally stressful, but for men it is still overwhelmingly their job to work,” said Cooper. ”Until we have more ‘new men’ who take on more of their family responsibilities as well as work, this is unlikely to change.”

Meanwhile, Dr Jill Miller, diversity and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, urged employers to look at the way their mental health and wellbeing support is used by different employee subsets. “Just as we all learn in different ways, we all approach our problems and tackle them differently,” she said. “There may be fantastic support available, but unless employees know how to access it and feel comfortable doing it, it won’t get used.”

A separate study, published yesterday by charity Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association, found that more than half (58 per cent) of employees felt poor treatment at work had affected their mental wellbeing. Almost two in five (39 per cent) of the 2,000 people surveyed said they had left a job because of unfavourable working conditions, and 42 per cent had taken sick days because of poor treatment in the office.

Meanwhile, research published by PwC last month found that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of people believe their employer does not take employee wellbeing seriously, and Aviva’s Working Lives Report, released in May, revealed that 69 per cent of private sector employees have gone to work unwell when they should have taken the day off

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  • While I find the content of this article interesting, I find the use of the word 'blame' in the title rather inappropriate and unrepresentative of the actual research findings.