- Did you know that close to 40% of men are hesitant to speak about their feelings and health?
- Marginalisation affects us all — it isn’t just a women’s issue or gender identity issue. We need to encourage men to talk about their mental and physical health.
- Jeannine van der Linden, director at the European Coworking Assembly, discusses the importance of highlighting men’s health and why it should be a big part of every coworking community.
This article has been written by Jeannine van der Linden, Director at the European Coworking Assembly.
If you have noticed a lot of moustaches over the past month, there is a very good reason for it.
Every year, the awareness of male well-being – medically, physically, and mentally — is highlighted during the month of November. The celebration is called Movember (which combines the words moustache and November) and is dedicated to the health of men, with a particular focus on prostate cancer. The cause is celebrated by encouraging growing a moustache in the month of November to show your support of male well-being.
The Movember Foundation, the organisation that started Movember, is dedicated to addressing some of the biggest unaddressed health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention. Gender is one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of health and life expectancy. On average men die six years earlier than women, globally.
But aren’t men supported enough in coworking spaces?
Throughout the year, the European Coworking Assembly focuses on the marginalised and draws awareness to ways in which coworking spaces can work against marginalisation.
With the IDEA project, the Inclusion Workbook in development, our focus at various times on Indigenous, Black, Asian, and women’s perspectives, as well as LGBTQ+ issues, we stay pretty busy on this front. But there is something else to talk about also.
Did you know that a quarter of suicide victims in London, Wales, and Scotland were middle aged men? This is the result of a recent study by the University of Manchester. According to the World Health Organisation three quarters of global suicides are men.
Did you know that just under 40% of men are hesitant to speak about their feelings and health? Prostate and testicular cancer have a large impact on the lives of men, and prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide.
Marginalisation affects us all.
It is important as part of the work to also look at the effects of internal division and sex, gender, and identity discrimination on all of us. It isn’t just a women’s issue or gender identity issue; we have been saying this right along. So we also need to encourage men to talk about their mental and physical health.
Because we see feelings and mental health awareness as not being masculine enough, and risk-taking behaviour and ignoring signs of health problems as part of being ‘manly’, our brothers are dying too young.
Coworking spaces build communities. Caring and looking after all our members is a part of our job. For a community to stand strong and work against marginalisation, it is important that no one is left behind – or feels left behind.
Here are some ways in which coworking spaces can help their male coworkers not just for Movember, but all year round.
Get involved and drive awareness
Getting involved and creating awareness within spaces is the best way to offer support to the men of the community. Driving awareness can be done in multiple ways:
- Awareness events
- Social media awareness campaigns
- Celebration of events such as Movember
- Outreach to and partnering with support groups
Once awareness has been established, it is important to let men know that the coworking space is a safe area for them to talk about their well-being. This is why support groups are so important. When men have a circle of trust, they can share their thoughts, and that can help them cope better with what they are dealing with.
How coworking spaces can offer support
Besides creating awareness, coworking spaces can support the well-being of men in multiple ways. This can make them feel comfortable in the space, especially knowing that the community is there to support them.
Coworking spaces can easily host support groups for mental health support. These sessions can take place during the evening at the coworking space and all coworkers of the space should be informed about the session. When these sessions are hosted at the coworking space, it creates a familiar environment for the participants as they already know the space and possibly the other members.
Hosting informative events allows all coworkers of the space to be introduced to the idea that men should also be focused on in this way. It allows all members to be on the same page. These events can take place either online or in-person and can cover a variety of topics.
Support events such as Movember
Showing support for events such as Movember informs the coworkers of the space that they have the support that they need. It ensures that they feel safe. It can also create an opportunity to start a discussion and this allows members to better understand and know each other.
Get the community involved
When a whole community is talking about supporting men and their well-being, it will create a feeling of safety and understanding.
How to create a mental health conscious space
The usage of coworking spaces has spiked over the last two years. This means that more members are making use of coworking spaces, and it also means that bigger and stronger communities are built.
Coworking spaces are focused on growing communities and a part of this strategy is to help and support the coworkers. A special focus on awareness of mental health issues has long been a part of our communities and it is appropriate to have a look at this now as well as mental health consciousness.
Here are some ways to create this space:
Focus on reducing loneliness
One of the reasons coworking came into existence was to answer the feeling of loneliness. Coworking allows those who work remotely to interact with others – whether people they directly work with or not. It can also boost productivity and drive connections and collaboration. Coworking spaces can help the mental health of many coworkers as it allows for quick interactions and simple chats.
Create a culture of mental awareness
For coworkers to be able to express their mental health, they should be aware that the space has awareness of mental health ingrained in its culture. This can be achieved by having mental health tips and tricks on leaflets, social media pages, blogs, or even newsletters. This will show the coworkers that the space is a safe area to discuss mental health.
Have anonymous interactions
Usually people, especially men, are reluctant to speak about their mental health if they think that they may be negatively judged for it. Staying anonymous can sometimes help them better express themselves and their feelings. So think about having people write letters for support, or emails, or even having a mental wellness box where people can submit suggestions or their feelings. Staying anonymous is key here and can mentally boost your coworkers
However a space chooses to create awareness for the well-being of men is up to the space and its coworkers. It is important to ensure that spaces are accepting of men expressing their well-being and offering them a safe space to express themselves.
This article has been written by Jeannine van der Linden, Director at the European Coworking Assembly. The Assembly serves as the one point of contact between independent coworking in Europe and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in which it finds itself.