On World Mental Health Day, four business leaders have shared their insights on how to improve men's mental health and challenge the stigmas that exist within workplaces and society as a whole. In Australia, men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women, driven by economic and occupational pressures and research shows that the urgency to address this public health issue is growing.
Pin Payments Co-CEO, Chris Dahl detailed that 82% of men in the financial services reported feeling stressed at work in the past month, according to the Financial Services Council. He touched on the importance of a supportive and inclusive workplace culture, stating, "We've always prioritised the mental wellbeing of our staff. We were very aware of the mental health implications of lockdown and created wellness initiatives, like care packages and virtual catchups, to keep morale high."
Dr Richard Wise, a clinical psychologist and clinical director at Wise Psychology, highlighted the harmful societal norms and stigmas that challenge men's mental health. He stated, "Too often, young boys are taught to adopt a detached and dismissive attitude, making these harmful stances the societal status quo. This stoicism, while seen as strength, often invalidates and isolates their suffering, paving the way for profound mental health challenges."
Thomas Fu, Founder and Executive Director at Motor Culture Australia, emphasised the unique mental health challenges experienced by startup founders. He explained, "Startup founders are twice as prone to depression, with 72 percent stating that their professional journey negatively impacted their mental well-being, causing stress, burnout, and more. It’s vital that we foster a workplace environment where men can openly discuss their feelings, thereby reshaping perceptions of masculinity and mental health."
Julian Vivoli, Founder and Director at Vivoli Consulting Engineers, also drew attention to how mental health discussions are often sidelined in male-dominated industries like construction and engineering. "When I started my career, I was exposed to some very unhealthy, toxic workplace cultures, which negatively impacted my mental health. I’ve actively worked to create a positive culture where the needs of my employees are heard before they escalate," Vivoli shared.
These perspectives point to the urgent need for workplaces to foster environments that support men's mental health, challenging existing workplace cultures that exacerbate the crisis. Several resources exist that provide men with mental health support, including Beyond Blue and MensLine Australia. Proactive involvement from business leaders and a shift in societal attitudes are essential elements in addressing mental health stigma and challenges among men. With these initiatives set in place, it is hoped that the journey towards improved men's mental health will gain momentum.