A Call to Action: Workplace Mental Health Interventions for Males in Blue-Collar Work
Doctor of Education
Dr. Ric Dressen
Dr. Anna Farrell
Dr. Joe Hill
Mental ill-health is prevalent, increasing, and has been worsened by COVID-19. Labeled as the next global pandemic, employers have an ethical and business responsibility to address the mental health concerns of their employees (Clifton, 2021). To make matters more alarming, individuals who have lower social determinants of health (SDoH) are at the bottom of the social gradient and more susceptible to mental health conditions (Clougherty, 2010). Combined with stigma and other barriers to receiving mental health support, males in blue-collar work are particularly vulnerable. The study involved semi-structured interviews with HR practitioners to examine whether employers can provide meaningful mental health support addressing SDoH, specifically for their male blue-collar workforce, to create positive employment and health outcomes. Employers that offer a variety of benefits or interventions that target influencing modifiable factors of SDoH and mental health have found some success in improving the wellbeing of these individuals and in turn creating retention. These findings suggest that providing full-scope benefit programs, starting with the organization’s culture of compassion, flexibility, and relationships may be advantageous for both employers and employees. To create this culture, training around mental health and SDoH for human resource (HR) practitioners, safety professionals, supervisors, and employees is essential. Training must expand to educate managers on how to build effective relationships and supports for their male blue-collar works. Beyond that, employers should offer training targeted at SDoH to help support a population who has face societal inequities – male blue-collar workers.