Across the globe, a man dies by suicide every single minute of every day, and 40% of men have never even spoken about their mental health. This signifies an undisputable need for change.
At Trinnovo Group, we brought together a panel of like-minded, passionate people to talk about the importance of recognising men’s health and wellness, while encouraging open communication to identify support systems and advocate for ourselves and others at work.
For many, Movember acts as an opportunity to not only raise money for an amazing cause but to spread awareness. On a localised level, it grants individuals the space they need to push themselves out of their comfort zones and talk about their mental health, which is exactly what we did. Here’s what we found out:
Breaking the mould
Why are men still struggling to talk about mental health today? It largely comes down to vulnerability and the stigma that comes with it. For some, to show weakness is weakness, and letting yourself be vulnerable is difficult in a society that perpetuates a ‘man up’ mindset. Recognising this is the first step towards breaking that mould, seizing the opportunity to follow your own advice and embody the change you want to see.
We often find ourselves offering support and guidance to others around us, letting people know that you are there if they need to talk, despite being reluctant to share our own struggles. Starting those conversations and creating a safe space for open communication will help in creating a positive chain reaction.
People often want to talk about their mental health, they simply don’t have the language, tools, space, or the people around them to do so. It’s important to define your support system in order to start these conversations.
When we’re on the listening end of a support network, we can often feel unequipped to support, as our natural reaction is to offer advice. People are not always in search of this advice, however, and instead, need an ear to listen and hold that space for them to talk.
‘If someone hurt their leg, you wouldn’t be expected to perform surgery on them, very much the same as you can’t be expected to do that for someone’s mental health’ - Abi Chamberlain at our Movember internal talk.
You can be part of helping someone find the solution, but you cannot always be prepared to provide it. You may be able to refer to mental health first aiders and other resources that can help, but overall, being a friend and listening actively without burdening yourself can immeasurably benefit those around you.
It can be difficult to start the conversation in the first place, especially if you’re struggling with your own mental health and well-being. This largely comes down to a lack of education – whether it’s not knowing the right terminology or failing to recognise the warning signs, the less you know, the worse off you are inside the space.
If you are feeling down, or like you’re not yourself, you might start noticing physical symptoms that start spiking with increased stress levels, such as restless legs, a tight chest and trouble sleeping. It can be extremely unsettling when you don’t know what these symptoms are linked to, and this knowledge gap can cause a perpetual cycle that worsens the problem.
Educating yourself is a great way to start the healing process. Read up on what you are experiencing, look at YouTube videos, and put the science behind what you are feeling.
Understanding psychological responses to events and triggers, such as sweaty palms and an increasing heart rate, enables you to objectively come up with solutions. It is also useful to educate yourself on what you’re experiencing before you reach a breaking point and work preventatively – it’s prehab rather than rehab.
Presence of the abnormal/absence of the normal
Recognising the signs and symptoms of those around us continues to be a challenge. We have a standard ‘assumption’ of how someone experiencing stress should behave or project. The key to recognising stress responses ultimately comes down to understanding what someone’s normal behaviour looks like, enabling you to notice the presence of the abnormal.
This looks different for everyone, as everyone projects their response to stress in their own way. Understanding your colleagues’ ‘usual’ routines and behaviours is the first step in recognising if something is off. For example, when stressed, some people who might usually be outspoken and bubbly may become more reserved and quieter, whereas others might become louder and/or snappy. These can vary between stereotypically ‘nervous’ behaviours like nail-biting, playing with your hair, fidgeting, or biting the insides of your cheeks. For others, these may manifest in changing eating habits, irritability or short-temper or disassociation. The main consideration when it comes to signposting is recognising that behavioural changes are different for everyone, so it’s worth looking out for those on an individual level.
What we do at Trinnovo Group
At Trinnovo Group, we are passionate about our people-first approach to life. We strive to ensure employee well-being is well supported through our perks and benefits, which include (but are not limited to):
Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
We offer a telephone EAP that aims to help employees in dealing with personal issues that might adversely impact their work performance, health, and well-being. It provides free, confidential support for anyone, and offers 24/7 access, 365 days a year to a telephone counselling service, legal advisors, bereavement assistance, and medical information.
Mental health first aiders
Mental Health First aiders are a point of contact for anyone who is experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. Support can range from having an initial confidential conversation to supporting you in getting appropriate help. As well as in a crisis, Mental Health First Aiders are valuable in providing early intervention help for someone who may be developing a mental health issue.
Wellness Action Plans
At any time, you can ask your manager to complete a review of your wellness action plan. Wellness Actions Plans are an easy, practical way of helping you to support your own mental health at work.
Everyone can complete a Wellness Action Plan – you don't need to have a mental health problem in order to feel the benefits. It just means that you already have practical steps in place to ensure that you are supported when you aren't feeling great.
Our Diversity Network at Trinnovo Group enables you to join a community that shares your passions. We have 4 Employee Engagement Groups at Trinnovo, centred around our core focus areas of Gender, Pride, Ethnicity and Veterans.
These groups work to deliver learning opportunities, spread awareness, and fundraise for our charity partners. Being part of the Diversity Network also acts as an opportunity to leverage this as a support network for your own well-being, shared passions often go together with creating an open and safe space for communication, meaning that these groups are often beneficial support.
What you can do
It is important to take the drive to break the stigma that comes along with men speaking about their physical and mental health and take it further than Movember, you can continue driving the change by:
Leading by example – start those conversations yourself and be vulnerable. Being that change will enable others to do the same.
Recognise vulnerability and acknowledge it – if someone feels comfortable confiding in you, recognise that it would have taken courage to do so and thank them, acknowledge them and hold that space for them.
Don’t give unsolicited advice – oftentimes someone venting to you may just need to get it off their chest, don’t feel that you must solve their problem. Actively listening is enough.
Educate yourself– if you notice warning signs in yourself or someone else, do your research before it gets to breaking point. Prehab rather than Rehab.
Ultimately, it is human – having a mental health decline is the same as having a cold, it is a human and common issue, and recognising it as such, and understanding that there are places to go and appropriate support around you helps in driving open communication.