When reaching out to men as part of mental-health efforts, it can helpful to frame them in particular ways by making the issue more about productivity and less about yoga mats. And setting up the program through the workplace can be a good way to start.

“I think men are just hard to reach,” says Geoff Soloway, co-founder and chief training officer at MindWell-U, an online provider of mental-health services in Vancouver.

“We need to be strategic on how to reach men in general, and we decided that a good place to reach men is the workplace because that’s where they spend a lot of their time,” he adds. “And we’ve built a campaign around mindfulness in order to get specific skills for cultivating positive mental health.”

Read: Insurers playing a role amid rising emphasis on mental health

MindWell-U has been working with the Movember Foundation and researchers at the University of British Columbia to test how mindfulness can reduce stress and improve productivity. Five workplaces participated in the pilot project, called Meeting Men in the Moment, which took place over two years and included group glasses, individual coaching and online training.

“We didn’t necessarily talk about mental health . . .,” says Soloway. “We talked about less stress, more joy, peak performance. And we used different anecdotes around who’s using mindfulness. So mindfulness is pretty popular right now in sports, the military trains in it, there’s a lot of executives who are training in mindfulness. And there’s a lot of science behind it. So we try and lead with those types of messaging so that men could identify with it, and also making it online and making it super easy for them to participate was part of the strategy to help them get engaged.” 

Read: Why you should hire a mindfulness coach

Solway adds a big part of the pilot was a 30-day online mindfulness training. “We implemented this practice of take five, which is a mindfulness in action practice,” he says. “It’s a practice that individuals can do in the midst of their day: in a meeting, on a stressful phone call, writing emails, on their commute to work.”

Taking five involves connecting with the physical environment, connecting with one’s breath, posture and body and developing open, non-judgmental mindsets.

“So no matter what’s happening in the moment, whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant, whether we’re stuck in a traffic jam or we’re receiving praise, how can we receive that with a sense of non-judgment?” says Soloway, adding that kind of attitude helps people avoid extreme moods.

Read: How to engage employees with mindful wellness

The Coca-Cola Co. was one of the employers that participated in the pilot project, and most participating employees reported the mindfulness challenge helped them manage stress (98 per cent), improve their ability to focus at work (92 per cent) and improve their time-management skills (86 per cent).

“Men’s health in general needs special attention, because we know that men are a bit stubborn in reaching out for help, so we need to be strategic in how we get messages for them,” says Soloway.

 

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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