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Movember launches research on state of workplace mental health this World Suicide Prevention Day

One in four Canadian men (28 per cent) fear their job could be at risk if they discussed their mental health at work, according to new research by Movember.

Figures released by Movember ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day tomorrow (September 10) have revealed how despite growing awareness of the male mental health crisis, a third of men said they would be reluctant to open up about their problems in case it had a negative impact on their career.

The study, conducted by Ipsos MORI, surveyed 1,000 Canadian men aged between 18 and 75. It found that 42 per cent of men would be worried about colleagues making negative comments behind their backs if they discussed mental health issues at work.

A further 33 per cent of men think they could be held back from promotion at work if they mentioned a problem that they were finding it difficult to cope with.

The majority of Canadian men are aware of the availability of mental health days in their workplace, with just over half (54 per cent) of employed men said they would be able to take time off work, if they were struggling with their mental health or other personal issues. However, this research shows that stigma surrounding mental health is still preventing men from talking about their problems and seeking help when they need it.

“Although we’ve made great progress in starting to talk openly about how we are feeling, there are many men worried that a personal mental health challenge might be revealed, especially in the workplace,” says Brendan Maher, Movember’s Global Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Director who is based out of Australia.

“We need to find effective ways of tackling that stigma so that men aren’t discouraged from getting the help they need. In the workplace, this can start with leaders encouraging conversations about the tough stuff and reminding staff that they won’t be marked down and will be supported if they are struggling.”

Movember is committed to tackling the crisis in men’s mental health through its investment in mental health programs and encouraging men to talk openly about their problems.

Three out of four suicides are men and it remains the biggest cause of death for men under the age of 44. Risk factors that increase a man’s vulnerability to poor mental health and suicide include relationship breakdown, acute stress, persistent low mood and social isolation.

To coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day, Movember ‘s Man of More Words campaign is focused on encouraging men to open when they are going through a tough time. Through a series of videos and social media posts, the charity is sharing the stories of men who have benefited from speaking up. 

Movember’s research also shows that over three quarters of Canadian men (80 per cent) polled believe that talking openly is an effective way of tackling problems. 

Brendan Maher adds: “We’re asking everyone be a ‘Man of More Words’. We know it can be sometimes difficult to have those conversations but it’s crucial that people reach out to someone when they are facing a tough time. It could also mean reaching out to a friend who you think might be having a tough time – and taking the time to stop and really listen to him.”

CANADIAN CASE STUDY: Retired Vancouver firefighter, Erik Bjarnason experienced suicidal thoughts himself following a personal battle with depression. After being trapped on Mount Logan in British Columbia, Erik lost all fingers and half a thumb to frostbite. He began to struggle with his mental health after the accident, pulling away from family and friends and self-medicated with alcohol when he was off the clock. Erik says that speaking out saved his life. He has since become an advocate for men to speak when they might be struggling, but also for workplaces to recognize the need to better support their employees, particularly amongst the first responder community. “There’s still a huge lack of awareness around how to deal with co-workers and employees who may be struggling. I had always thought I was the only one suffering. In reality there is a small army of firefighters suffering in silence who are desperate for help.”  Watch Erik’s story HERE.

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