Men and Anxiety
Statistically, anxiety affects both men and women equally. However, men are generally less likely to report their struggles with anxiety disorder. This is especially true in a male-dominated industry where anxiety can be seen as a weakness or not masculine enough. The pressure to maintain a tough exterior, as seen in toxic masculinity, is often linked to men's inability to seek treatment or speak out.
Male-dominated workplaces in industries such as construction, oil, and gas, engineering, and finance, among others, can often be competitive, stressful and demanding. Accustomed to always being in control and macho energy, anxiety struggles, and the pressure to maintain a persona image can be an excruciatingly painful experience.
Managing Anxiety in a Male-dominated Industry
Exposure therapy, deep breathing, physical exercise, among other techniques, are some of the common ways to manage anxiety. For a man in a male-dominated industry, coping mechanisms for anxiety can be a challenging choice to make. Reaching out for help could mean revealing a vulnerability, making it daunting, difficult, and even unsolvable at times. And asking for help can be perceived as a way of admitting that you are not strong.
Instead, most men will resort to maladaptive coping mechanisms such as substance abuse, agnosticism, or other detrimental activities that may lead to further complications.
The fear of being looked down upon by colleagues or revealing a weak point in the workplace can lead one to hide their anxiety. As a result, the individual may struggle in silence, and work experience can lead to further negative outcomes such as decreased productivity, absences, or even job loss.
What can be done?
It is essential to recognize that mental health issues such as anxiety are common and can affect anyone regardless of gender. In a male-dominated industry, individuals should feel entitled to seek help and discuss their anxiety struggles without prejudice.
Therefore, workplaces can encourage employees to seek help by providing access to mental health professionals or creating a safe and supportive environment for employees to come forward and talk about their mental health struggles. This could be achieved through the creation of employee-led support systems within the workplace or sharing stories of employees who have overcome mental health struggles and are thriving in their careers.