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07 October 2020

Men are less aware of mental wellbeing initiatives and participate less according to study

More than 1 in 11 (9.3%) of all men in employment under 40 were found to be experiencing mental health issues, with the majority of this group (92%) reporting feeling nervous or restless at least a little of the time in the prior month according to new data released by Vitality.

The data, from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace study, also found that those aged between 18 to 25 years old were the largest group of male employees affected by mental health issues with nearly 1 in 10 (10%) suffering from symptoms of moderate to severe depression.

The data was collected prior to the Covid-19 pandemic which has changed all our lives, and the way and where many of us work. This is also likely to have negatively impacted people’s mental health and exacerbated these issues.

On the back of the research - which is self-declared from men, and therefore likely to be underreported - Vitality’s mental health ambassador and former England Rugby Union star Jonny Wilkinson, is encouraging people to seek out and access support when they need it.

Jonny Wilkinson said: “Mental health affects everyone and is at the centre of our overall wellbeing. We know that men, in particular young men, can sometimes find it hard to be open and honest, often struggling with depression and anxiety alone.

For me, talking about my mental health and focusing upon the most challenging times of my life has played a key role towards unlocking real possibility for transformation. By continuing to do so I hope I can help people reach out, access and seek support when they need it.

Employee support for mental health

The results show that 95% of organisations offer at least one type of mental wellbeing initiative and 82% of organisations offer at least four types of workplace mental wellbeing initiatives, such as mindfulness classes or employee assistance programmes.

More work is needed to ensure that employees are engaged and feel able to reach out and seek this support when they need it, with a quarter (25%) of men not aware of any mental wellbeing initiatives in the workplace, and 20% of women.

The study also revealed that 70% of male employees aged 18 to 25 did not participate in mental wellbeing initiatives in the workplace - the largest of all of age groups, and 67% of men aware of mental wellbeing initiatives, did not participate in them. This lack of awareness and participation may mean that many male employees are suffering in silence.

With the pandemic changing the way people work and access support, in particular more people working from home for long periods of time, organisations may now have further difficulties raising awareness of any interventions they have, alongside signposting how employees can access them.

Judy Parfitt, Chief People Officer at Vitality, said: “This data was gathered before lockdown, and the pandemic has definitely amplified mental health challenges. In recent years, many companies have introduced initiatives to promote employee mental wellbeing, but how these services are promoted and accessed may have been adversely affected with many people working from home.

“It’s vitally important that employers continue to prioritise mental health, identifying employees who may be experiencing issues, and signposting the mental wellbeing initiatives and support available to them.”

The study, which uses a broad set of questions covering lifestyle, clinical and mental health, work engagement and productivity, and an in-depth assessment of leadership, culture and the health and wellbeing interventions offered by employers, has previously revealed that productive time lost attributable to workers’ stress, depression and anxiety cost the economy £30 billion last year *.

For further information, please contact:

Alexa Chaffer

Head of PR, Vitality

[email protected]

Notes to editors:

*Lost productive time was calculated using the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment Scale, and converted to a cost to the economy using employment data from the Office for National Statistics.


The Britain's Healthiest Workplace survey was conducted between March and August 2019. It assessed a number of lifestyle, mental wellbeing, clinical risk and productivity factors amongst 26,432 employees of 129 organisations, together with a broad view of leadership and cultural dimensions and policies, practices, facilities and services that could impact on employee health and wellbeing. Results are based on UK-based employees for each company surveyed. The six-item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale was used to identify symptoms of depression.

For further information about Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, visit: