Its research, based on the calls made to its employee assistance programme (EAP), supplied by Health Assured, found that the number of calls from male employees seeking mental health support increased by 84% between May 2018 and April 2019. This compared to a 6% increase in calls from female employees over the same period.
Personal Group’s client data also found that male employees made 21% more general helpline calls and 30% more calls specifically about mental health than female employees over the past 12 months.
Male employees were also 25% more likely than female employees to access employee assistance services between 1am and 5am at weekends.
The research coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week (running 13 to 19 May) and aims to raise awareness that the risks to male mental and physical health are compounded further by their reluctance to seek help. Separate research from The Work Foundation has shown that, as well as being less likely than women to seek help for a mental health issue, men are also less likely to visit a GP, attend an NHS health check, or visit a pharmacy.
Personal Group researchers said that, while the findings could be seen as a negative indicator of worsening mental health among male employees, the rise in men seeking support could also be viewed as a positive shift towards greater awareness and acknowledgement of male mental health struggles.
"When we first saw the results of the research they seemed quite startling, but this could also mean that far more men feel they are able to seek support for their mental health, which is definitely a positive thing," Wendy Melville, head of marketing at Personal Group, told HR magazine.
"Accessibility is really important. It's great to have things like mental health first aid in the workplace, but we know that mental health issues don't stop when you finish work and a lot of people are more likely to struggle when they’re alone. Or if you're working in retail or manufacturing it might not always be possible for you to step away from your shift and organise a meeting to discuss mental health.”
Technology plays an important role in men being able to access help, she added: "Having something like an app you are able to access with ease at any time of day might seem like a small thing, but it can really help to encourage people to open up."
A total of 6,330 calls were made to Personal Group’s employee assistance programme between 1 May 2018 and 20 April 2019.