Men’s health is in crisis - employers can help by making it easier for men to access vital care
There is a crisis affecting male health, impacting on all aspects of men’s lives – including their work. So this year, Men’s Health Awareness Week (June 13-17) couldn’t have more significance.
In recent years, we’ve seen greater focus on campaigns highlighting the growing issues affecting men’s physical and mental wellbeing.
From Movember and CALM, looking at preventing male suicide, to testicular and prostate cancer awareness events, attention is being paid to many of the most severe illnesses affecting UK male life expectancy.
But there’s also a much more widespread cause for concern among health professionals when it comes to men’s health – and employers should take note.
Widely, men are struggling to access healthcare services, while falling victim to lifestyle-induced health problems and longer-term conditions.
UK men are now in the unenviable position of being top of the league when it comes to obesity in Europe. Stress levels and their effects on mental wellbeing mean 40% of employees are thinking of quitting their jobs. And, it’s estimated that around two million UK men suffer from low testosterone – impacting directly on their focus and concentration levels, physical stamina and all-round performance.
Positive steps are being made. REBA’s 2021 research showed that 82% of organisations already include or plan to address men’s health in their wellbeing strategy. But, to tackle the problem of men’s health, organisations must take a whole-person approach.
Healthcare is harder than ever to access
It’s no secret the NHS is overburdened: everyone is finding it more difficult to see their GP, while pressures on finances mean many are less likely to prioritise spending on private healthcare.
For men – a demographic that on average works longer hours and is notorious for putting off seeing a health professional due to age-old tropes around ‘not making a fuss’ and ‘being a man about it’ – the situation is even worse.
And for workplaces, the impact is huge. Recent research from Peppy revealed that more than one-quarter of organisations cite presenteeism as a problem among male staff.
Employers can build a healthier workforce
One awareness week isn’t enough to highlight the growing physical and mental health problems affecting men. Working men need to help themselves too, but with the right tools, employers can give male employees a helping hand to access the health and lifestyle support they need, when they need it.
It’s about raising awareness, leading by example, normalising the conversation and – crucially – offering accessible, discreet support that takes a whole-person approach.
It falls to employers to support men (and people who self-identify as male or were born male) with specialist, holistic support that fill the gaps between ‘Doctor Google’ and traditional healthcare, encouraging healthy habits in their male staff and helping business thrive by boosting productivity and reducing sickness and attrition.
Holistic men’s health support is the answer
Generally, for men, minimising barriers to entry will maximise uptake and therefore impact. This means removing waiting rooms, advanced appointments and face-to-face interaction, and providing specialist, confidential support in a way that’s easy-to-access and significantly less intimate than sitting across the desk from a GP.
So, what if men could access a team of health specialists in an instant, for free, without having to leave their desk or home?
A new generation of wellbeing tools does just that, empowering employers to give male employees access to a team of expert specialist practitioners, all in one place. Digital health apps and platforms are able to connect users to a wealth of knowledge and experience ranging from fitness and nutrition to mental health and urology.
Human experts can advise on an individual’s known health concerns or lifestyle goals, or identify red flags and get to the root of a problem. Support is prevention-focused, but also able to signpost employees to the changes and treatments they might need.
Men’s health support should be accessible and convenient – regardless of commitments, social life and working hours. There should be no long waiting times or referrals, no complex sign-up process and no need for men to tell anyone they’re accessing support – certainly not HR. Just fast, easy, expert support, delivered by a friendly face.
Now is a watershed moment for employers to ensure that they are helping their male workforce build habits that stick. Combining health support with open conversations with senior male business leaders and wider awareness initiatives can create sea change within an organisation.
If we learn anything from this Men’s Health Awareness Week, it should be that men’s health needs to become a year-round, long-term and holistic effort. This is where workplaces have a crucial part to play.
In partnership with Peppy
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