November is Men’s Health Month and a key focus this year is mental health and the importance of talking. For male unpaid carers, this is even more important. Caring can have a huge impact on your mental health and it can be vital to tell others about the impact it is having on you.
Finding it hard to identify yourself as an unpaid carer
More than one in four male unpaid carers in employment would not describe or acknowledge themselves as an unpaid carer to others, meaning they may not get the support they need at work.*
Stereotypes around caring can also play a huge role in making it harder to talk about being a male unpaid carer. Caring and emotional support in general can often be seen as a ‘women’s role’, or portrayed in the media as mostly something women do. In reality, the 2011 census found that 42% of carers In the UK are male.
A survey by Carers Trust and the Men’s Health Forum found that over half of male carers felts they had different needs to female carers and needed additional support on asking for help and balancing work and caring.
There are many benefits from talking about being an unpaid carer both on a practical level and to help with your emotional wellbeing.
Talking to your employer about your caring role
It can be daunting talking to your employer about your caring role. You may feel unsure of how to explain your caring role, or you may be worried about the impact in telling your employer. As an unpaid carer, you do have certain rights in the workplace, including protection from discrimination. You have the right to request flexible working after working for a company for 6 months. This could be to work from home, work a different shift pattern or have flexible hours depending on what would work for you. You can read more information about work and employment as an unpaid carer on our info page here.
Carers UK also have some great tips on how to open up the conversation about flexible working and talking about your caring role.
Finding spaces to talk
If you can no longer talk to the person you look after like you once did, it can make it even more challenging to open up to others. Recognising this feeling can be a first step in realising that although your relationship with the person you care for has changed, you might need others in your life so you don’t feel as isolated.
According to Carers UK research, almost half of carers say they’ve faced relationship difficulties because of their caring role.
You can find more information on dealing with change and conflict on our info page here.
Talking to other men
You might find it easier to talk to other men who are in similar situations.
One option might be to find your nearest Men’s Sheds (or Sheds) which are places to pursue practical interests at leisure. You might be doing woodworking, metalworking, repairing and restoring, electronics, model buildings or even car building in a typical Shed. More than this though, they are about social connections and friendship building and learning skills from others.
You can find your nearest Shed on their website.
Another options could be Men Speak Men’s groups, where men can have a chance to talk beyond the banter about real issues they are facing.They offer different groups from regular check-ins, to a group that runs for a set number of weeks. All of these groups offer online options.
There is also The ManKind Project which offers online groups to connect with other men. You can also contact them through their website to find out more about local groups.
We have previously ran male only events – such as cooking workshops, or bushcraft and archery events. Stay up to date on what’s on here.
Equally just as important as finding new friends or talking to others is to tell the people close to you about your role as a carer.
If you are an unpaid carer and want further support or help with anything mentioned in this blog, you can always phone one of our friendly Carer Advisers on 0800 181 4118 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
*If you want to find out more about male carers, and the source of the statistics and findings used in this blog visit: Male carers: Husband, Partner, Dad, Son, Carer? | Men’s Health Forum (menshealthforum.org.uk)