The fact that one in eight men encounter depression in their lifetime (and one in five encounter anxiety) is quite ironic when you consider the cultural pressure that is put on men to be strong and indifferent. Divorce, financial pressures and workplace issues can result in a collapse in a man’s confidence. Men face significantly higher rates of suicide than their female peers.
It is important that support networks and communication exists within the places men are spending most of their time. Often, if this is not within their home it is within their workplace. These are 3 very easy steps to encourage support for men, from men, within their workplace.
1. Encourage communication
Communication is essential in detecting symptoms of depression and anxiety. It would be ideal if the issue could be dealt with as soon as the symptoms are detected but it’s a little more complex than that. Instead one should focus not on deterring depression or anxiety, but rather addressing it and talking about it.
Depression is like a cold. The symptoms often look similar in most people but it will feel different for everyone. Send a group email out to the males in the office related to depression success stories or something similar. Don’t be afraid to bring it up in conversation. Start the communication and make your workplace a safe place to talk about real issues.
2. Team building exercises
I bet you’ve been victim to some horrid excuses for team building exercises. If you want to go down this path—and I suggest that you do—do something fun. If you have a group of sports fans in the office maybe look into fun competitions like a local football league or a tennis tournament. If you have less of a physical group and more of an intellectual team perhaps look into something a little different. Escape rooms are said to be a great at bringing a team together and have popped up in most major cities.
Or perhaps a Maze? Or a weekly Trivia Night at a local bar? Team building exercises are proven to improve performance in the workplace as well as mental well-being so perhaps talk to your boss about having the costs tax deducted.
If you didn’t understand the importance of education you wouldn’t be reading this. Depression is serious and very real, and it should be treated as such. Educate your group, learn the symptoms; let them know that it’s nothing to be ignored. Be that guy that organizes a member of Beyond Blue to come into the office and talk, or sends out a group email of a Ted Talk about depression, or send a friend you’re concerned about this checklist. You never know how far it might go.
Creating support for men in the workplace is often regarded as ‘unnecessary’ but the facts would argue otherwise. The act of helping and supporting another in the workplace may be enough to lift someone out of depression, but it’s up to us to start the process and make the change.
“Progress is impossible without change”
– George Bernard Shaw
Author: Joe Lipson is the HR Manager at Strike Escape Rooms, a team building activity that helps groups from all walks of life get together to solve puzzles. When he’s not working to boost morale you can find him around Melbourne trying out as many new events as possible.