This blog was written by Jason Spence of Oakwood Solicitors who actively support the work and mission of PAPYRUS. Oakwood Solicitors is one of the only firms in the country to specialise in Stress at Work and has a leading team dedicated to the wellbeing of employees across the nation.
After reading about the urgent need for charity funding to help stem alarming male suicide rates in the UK (here), it sparked a conversation among the team at Oakwood Solicitors, and prompted us to explore the various reasons that contribute to male suicide rates in the UK.
Every individual case is as unique as it is utterly tragic, but in this blog, we explore some of factors that may contribute to so many men feeling like they have reached crisis point. We spoke with men both within our team and externally to understand the pressures and similar challenges men might face and that may ultimately lead to these devastating statistics.
Almost a quarter of new Scottish Widows customers in 2022 declared a mental health condition, with money worries being the most common catalyst according to its data.
Cash-flow problems can spring up at any time, especially in our troubled economic climate, and these can range from small annoyance to financial devastation. For many households, the feeling of ‘just getting by’ can quickly be upended to become a chase to keep up with whatever shortfall has occurred.
Many men feel that the responsibility lies upon them to be the provider of the family, and when times become hard it can have a profoundly negative impact upon emotional wellbeing.
Even today, the ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality is very much a factor when it comes to how many men perceive emotional matters. The age-old belief that showing emotion is a sign of weakness, and sentiment that “boys don’t cry” has often been drilled into males from a young age, and is therefore something many carry with them into their adolescent and adult years. Where women often have more effective ways of dealing with emotions as they have more experience of showcasing how they’re feeling, men have a tendency to bottle them all up and not share them with anyone. Over the course of a long time, this can have a very damaging effect on mental health.
As briefly touched upon above – many men feel like they have nobody to turn to when it comes to worries and emotional issues. Women are often more comfortable and open to talking about their feelings, whereas men may often try to press on regardless of how they feel and pretend that it isn’t happening.
With the correct support network around you and the desire to seek help from it, worries can be so much more effectively dealt with. If this is inadequate, then acknowledging the issue may make it easier to consult the help of a GP or counsellor who can hopefully set you on the path to recovery.
Perhaps tying in with money worries is the desire or need to be the ultimate provider for the family. Getting sucked into the loop of constantly being on the go for work, whether it be during work hours or beyond; the pressure to be persistently firing on all cylinders as you climb your way up the career ladder can inevitably have an effect on the family unit as well as the individual.
When work seems to be the sole reason to exist, it is understandable that some men are having difficulty finding a healthy work/life balance in order to remain emotionally grounded.
How to get help
Maybe this is the first time you have considered seeking outside help, whether that be from your spouse, a friend or a relative. If so, it is never too late to discuss your problems, and the problems are never too complex that they cannot be solved.
Here are some handy pointers to help keep your mental health in check:
- Tell someone about your worries: whether it be a colleague, parent, spouse, friend, a medical professional, or someone else that you trust. A problem shared is a problem halved.
- Seek additional help: a loved one may not always be able to have an answer for everything you’re going through. Your GP will assist you to help find the right pathway for you, or alternatively, there are many helplines that can offer support. If your feelings have escalated and you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, HOPELINE247 is available 24 hours a day to keep you safe from suicide and assist you with a safety plan.
- Practice mindfulness: give yourself as many opportunities as you can throughout the day to just let your mind focus on being in the present, no matter what you are doing at that time.
- Improve your work/life balance: find time to do the things you love with the people you love outside of work. If work is the issue, let your issues be known to your manager or HR representative.
Someone is always available to listen, even in the darkest hour, helplines such as HOPELINE247 can be contacted at any time of the day or night, every day of the year.
If work worries are getting the better of you and your employer isn’t listening, you can also speak to Oakwood’s Stress at Work team today on 0113 200 9720.