‘Man up!’ How Good Leadership Saves Lives

Most of your male friends will tell you they have been told to either ‘man up’ or ‘grow a pair’ at some stage in their lives. For generations men have been encouraged to be tough, that boys don’t cry; anything less is a sign of weakness and evidence of not being good enough to be part of the world of ‘real men’. We are expected to deal with the situation alone and not to speak up, doing so is failure.

Traditionally men have been less likely to seek support with mental health issues, they account for only 1 in 5 GP visits. We can speculate on the reasons – stigma, emotion seen a weakness and adhering to the strong male stereotype are principle culprits. Men don’t want to be seen by other men as weak or a liability, the culture of bravado and toughing it out rule supreme.

As many as 40% of men never speak about their mental health, despite over three-quarters suffering from common symptoms like anxiety, stress or depression. When asked why they don’t speak up, the biggest reasons cited were:

• ‘I’ve learnt to deal with it
• ‘I don’t wish to be a burden to anyone
• ‘I’m too embarrassed
• ‘There’s negative stigma around this type of thing

This year over 4,000 men will commit suicide. How many lives could be saved by enabling men to share their anxiety and concern?. Many are avoidable with simple interventions, conversations and access to appropriate resources. The effects of work related failure, being overlooked for promotion or responsibility, lack of reward have a significant impact on suicide in males. Yet responsible planning and procedures implemented by leaders could make a difference. Efforts to reduce suicides hinge on leadership involvement to create a healthy organizational culture which support individual wellbeing.


Some easy wins include:

Wellbeing Courses

Build resilience and Mental Health Awareness into more traditional training objectives.

Highlighting resources

Let your team know what they can do, where they can find help, who they can talk to.

Gatekeeper training (GKT)

Gatekeeper training (GKT) is a common strategy in suicide prevention that educates informal helpers about warning signs and risk factors for suicide as well as strategies to support distressed peers.

For Wellbeing courses contact: Aspire-leadership.co.uk

For further reading and resources contact:



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