As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, a UK insurer is to create safe spaces for men in its network of repair garages.
LV= General Insurance (LV= GI) said it made the move after research commissioned by the underwriter and its charity partner Family Action reveals as many as 4 in 5 (81%) men are hiding their problems from their nearest and dearest.
The research find that nearly 1 in 5 men (18%) didn’t know where to turn to when they needed help and support with their problems, with 20% feeling too embarrassed to ask and 17% thinking no one would care.
In response to this, LV= is launching a new initiative to provide men with a safe space to talk about their problems where they’d least expect it – in their local repair garage. The initiative will provide employees and customers at the insurer’s branded bodyshops direct, confidential access to someone to talk to via specially designed Family Action phones, installed in many of the insurer’s garages up and down the country.
Phones will direct users to Family Action’s FamilyLine service, a helpline which offers free, support and guidance for adult family members by text, phone, web chat and email. Callers can also be referred to additional services which include counselling, coaching and befriending.
The scheme has been launched in garages – where around 90% of the workforce is men – as a means of helping them talk about their problems. Of the family members who reach out to FamilyLine, only 17% of callers so far this year have been men, who have been asking for support with parenting issues and mental health.
The insurers said the move comes as family pressures are more real than ever
The study said two in five men admit they’re feeling the pressures of family life more than ever before in 2022, with nearly half (49%) of men sharing they felt they’ve needed support this year. Despite this, 81% of men admit to hiding their problems from those closest to them and 40% would rather talk to a stranger about their problems than friends or family. Meanwhile, 74% of men report they haven’t received the help they’ve needed so far this year.
Financial difficulties caused by the rising cost of living (40%), worrying about what the future holds (37%) and concerns about children who have fallen behind as a result of the pandemic (25%) are topping the list of things men are most worried about.
Worryingly, mental health and financial worries were listed as the problems men are most likely to keep to themselves and not share.
The research also focused on how society’s preconceptions around male behaviour impacts how they talk about their problems. Over 1 in 5 (21%) of men still think showing emotion is a sign of weakness, while a similar amount (23%) have been told to ‘man-up’ in the face of adversity.
Meanwhile, 22% say they were taught to hide their emotions from a young age, with 18 being the average age men stop asking for help from those close to them.
Heather Smith, Managing Director at LV= General Insurance said: “Through our work with Family Action’s vital service FamilyLine, we’re proud to offer families a means to access free, guidance and support with a range of issues, from parenting to more complex problems
“We’ve seen from our research that men are much less likely to reach out for help, and the data from FamilyLine shows this. However, we must look to break down the barriers and stigma so that men feel it’s OK to reach out when they need to. We felt by providing easy, direct access to FamilyLine in our LV= garages, where our people are predominately male and where our customers come to see us, will help encourage more men to seek help when they need it and talk.”
Ayse Hassan, Head of Helpline at Family Action, added: “Clearly the current cost-of-living crisis has put even more pressure on families who were already vulnerable. FamilyLine has seen a steady rise in the number of calls in the last 12 months, with a 30% increase in contacts in 2021 compared with the year before.
“Our helpline volunteers provide a listening ear for those in need, offering support and guidance as well as signposting callers to other specialist support service, and we’re proud to be able to partner with LV= to encourage more men to access help”