Donate My RoSPA
    Basket is empty.
Net Total: £0.00

Let’s talk about men’s health...

Let’s talk about men’s health...


This week is Men’s Health Week – the perfect opportunity to kick-off the conversation about men’s health in your workplace, says Becky Spencer.

It is a fact that men of working age seek help from their GP less often than women when they are sick and often delay speaking to a healthcare professional when they have concerns about their health, so taking health information to them in the workplace can bring some really positive benefits. Workplace health and wellbeing initiatives get a lot of stick but where men’s health is concerned, they really could be a life saver.

In the UK, life expectancy for men is consistently lower than for women. One man in five dies before he reaches the age of 65 and around two in five men die before the age of 75. The reasons for the difference in life expectancy are complex but the statistics show that, in general, men engage less with healthcare services, are less likely to attend preventative health checks, and often have lower awareness about the symptoms of specific health conditions.

How can the workplace help?

Raising awareness of health issues and signposting to sources of advice and support is where the workplace can play the biggest role and it’s not an expensive thing to do. Despite this, a recent survey of 649 organisations, representing millions of employees, found only seven per cent focus on men’s health to “a large extent” in their health and wellbeing activity. Two-thirds said they don’t focus on men’s health at all or only to a small extent.

Some employers may think it is not down to them to improve men’s health but with men making up 60 per cent of the full-time workforce in the UK, keeping them healthy brings significant business benefits in terms of less sickness absence and lost productivity.

For years now, the UK Government has looked to the workplace as a way of increasing men’s engagement with health services. However, the survey results above suggest that they haven’t been too successful. Yet research shows that taking health messages to men ‘where they are’ rather than waiting for men to reach out to health services raises awareness and engagement.

The theme of this year’s Men’s Health Week is ‘share your health stories’. Organised by the Men’s Health Forum, the aim of the week is to encourage men to talk more about health issues or concerns they may have. Awareness-raising initiatives in the workplace can really help kick-off the conversation. Posters in staff rooms or canteens, lunchtime seminars, information on the intranet are just a few of the options available to get information out there. 

Rather than overloading employees with too much information, try to focus on a few significant male health issues such as:

  • Prostate cancer

One in eight men will get prostate cancer ­–144 men are diagnosed every day in the UK. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men but it’s also the most survivable if it is found early, which is why it is important to raise men’s awareness about symptoms and how to check their risk. Prostate Cancer UK has launched an online risk checker which takes less than 30 seconds to complete. The day after King Charles shared that he had a problem with an enlarged prostate the number of people using the online risk checker almost doubled, which shows that raising awareness really does help.
Free prostate cancer awareness-raising posters to display in the workplace can be downloaded from here. Some include a QR code that can be scanned to ‘check your risk’. And the Men’s Health Forum has launched a new ‘man manual’ called P For Prostate which can be shared for free via the staff intranet, for example, or hard copies can be ordered.

  • Mental health

Raising awareness of mental health issues in the workplace will benefit all employees. At any given time, 1 in 6 working-age adults have symptoms associated with mental ill health such as depression and anxiety. In 2022/23,875,000 workers reported suffering from stress, depression or anxiety caused by their work.
However, it remains the case that men are less likely to talk about any mental ill health issues they are having and are less likely to access support such as talking therapies. Four in five suicides are by men – suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 and there has been a sharp increase in the rate among men aged 35-64. “Men are suffering in silence,” Anthony Davis from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) told a recent House of Commons’ inquiry into men’s health.
He added: “An important source of intervention is normalising and being able to encourage men to talk about their mental health in the workplace… encouraging men to do more [mental health] training and having mental health first aiders in the workplace can normalise that it is okay to talk about how you are feeling. It is okay to seek help, and it is okay to understand that your mental health and physical health are linked. If you are experiencing physical health symptoms, they may be linked to low mood or anxiety.”
There are plenty of free resources online to help workplaces raise awareness of mental health issues.

  • BACP’s R.A.I.S.E campaign, for example, focuses on depression in men, highlighting some of the often overlooked symptoms of depression – risk-taking, anger, isolation, substance misuse and exhaustion.  
  • The charity MatesinMind runs a free and confidential 24/7 text support service – BeAMate – and has produced a free poster for Men’s Health Week which signposts sources of support.
  • And as work-related stress, depression and anxiety are so prevalent, it is vital employers address the causes of this. A good starting point to do this is HSE’s Stress Management Standards approach.
  • Men M.O.Ts

Prevention is better than cure, which is why the NHS carries out free health checks for men (and women) aged 40-74 which will identify their risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney disease and stroke. This preventative check-up carried out by GPs involves a blood test and a conversation about lifestyle factors that can influence health, such as diet, smoking and exercise.
These checks are important because they give men the knowledge to take control of their own health and also enable them to receive treatment for conditions they may be unaware they have due to a lack of symptoms, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. An online version of the health check has been in development for a while now. When launched it will mean the health check can be done anywhere on a mobile phone, which cuts out any issues of getting an appointment during work time.

 The Men’s Health Forum also has a DIY health M.O.T on its website and the accompanying ‘Man MOT manual’ can be viewed here.

Raising awareness of men’s health issues in the workplace is cheap and simple to do but it has the potential to change lives and keep your workforce healthy, so let’s get those conversations started.


Becky Spencer is a writer and editor on health and safety and accident prevention at work, in the home, during leisure activities and on the road. She was previously Managing Editor of RoSPA’s occupational safety & health journals and is currently editor of the European Association for Injury Prevention & Safety Promotion (EuroSafe) newsletter.


Already a member? Login to MyRoSPA to read more articles

Login to you MyRoSPA account
Login to MyRoSPA to view more exclusive content


| Join RoSPA 

Become a member now
Become a member to access MyRoSPA to view more exclusive content


Already a member? Login to MyRoSPA to read more articles

Login to you MyRoSPA account
Login to MyRoSPA to view some more exclusive content


| Join RoSPA 

Become a member now
Become a part of the MyRoSPA team to view more exclusive content



Contact Us

General Enquiries
+44 (0)121 248 2000
+44 (0)121 248 2001
[email protected]
Contact form