I know a few blokes in my circles that love a chat, myself included...but if some of us are honest with ourselves, we probably tend to leave out the deep stuff that matters.
We seem to find it an easy task to check in with a mate or colleague if we can physically see that they are unwell, however, when it comes to checking in with others’ mental wellbeing it feels easier to brush things off with a ‘she’ll be right mate’.
There’s an age-old misconception around what it is to be a man and how we need to appear, especially in front of other men. We’ve been taught by society that men can’t be fragile, but instead, need to be seen as strong and stable - in the home, workplace and social situations. And I’m here to tell you that it’s not okay.
Fragility and stability can, and do, work together. Allowing yourself to show your vulnerability is actually courageous and is much healthier for your mental stability, instead of bottling up your feelings and eventually losing control.
So how do we maintain a good balance of strength and vulnerability?
This is my personal invitation to you to explore more meaningful chats with the blokes in your circles. When I was diagnosed years ago with clinical depression, negative thoughts would amplify and spiral out of control when I was alone. Though at times it was hard to speak up for fear of how I would be viewed by society, the power of family and workplace support, social connection and seeking professional help through a psychologist saved me. My advice - forget the idea of composing a ‘manly’ facade and let the conversation flow. You never know when you might just be reaching out to a mate with a shared experience that he needs to get off his chest too.
As we continue to navigate through COVID-19, we need to evolve and adapt through connection. With remote working, managing an increase or decrease in workloads and juggling home-life, we can often feel disconnected, overwhelmed and lonely, which can have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing.
In fact, 53% of workers in Australia have experienced a mental health condition in the last 12 months, according to SuperFriend’s latest annual Indicators of a Thriving Workplace study, which is Australia’s largest survey into mental health within the workplace.
Through connectedness, males in positions of leadership and colleagues alike, have the ability to effect huge positive change in the workplace.
From the same SuperFriend survey, it was reported that 30% of workers believed the best wellbeing initiative they saw implemented at work was mental health support, with organisations providing mental health days and offering internal or external mental health support options, which is really positive to see.
While we know issues like job stability and hectic workloads have a huge impact on mental health, it is also good to know that there are targeted initiatives out there offering real and actionable support.
Increased awareness and understanding around mental health allows us to recognise changes and especially downturns in behaviour, feelings and attitudes, within ourselves and potentially others, early on. This can lead to authentic conversations with our colleagues and the mode to seek solutions and relief together.
So if you think one of your mates is struggling, ask the deeper questions - and even if they aren’t ready to talk, planting the seed and letting them know you are there when they are ready is a step in the right direction. After all, connection and conversation is a fundamental bridge to getting help.
SuperFriend promotes mentally healthy workplaces, and provides practical actions on what businesses can do to help their employees thrive. Find out more here:
By Mark Leopold, Head of Policy and Strategic Alliances at SuperFriend