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Recognising men and boy’s achievements as well as the difficulties and challenges that they experience encourages conversations about mental health, positive masculinity, and gender equality.

The theme for this year’s International Men’s Day is ‘zero male suicide’. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50. Three quarters of deaths from suicide each year are men. Professor Dan Bilsker, Director of Vancouver’s Psych Health and Safety puts it simply: “We are in the middle of a silent epidemic of male suicide.”

In this context, the use of the word ‘silent’ speaks volumes. It is no secret how powerfully impactful it can be to talk about your troubles, and sometimes, opening up to a friend or colleague is enough to start building a support system that will be there for you on your ‘off’ days. What isn’t easy however is building up the courage to start talking, especially for men. Generally, men find it much harder to talk about their feelings – research by men’s mental health charity Movember found that 60% of men don’t share how they are feeling with anyone.

There are many reasons for this. One reason can start right from upbringing: every boy is used to hearing phrases like ‘big boys don’t cry’ and ‘man up’, and as they grow older, they are introduced to the idealistic man – a strong and fearless provider who can look after himself and the people around him. As a result of this, the fear of appearing weak is enough to deter many men into staying silent.

This is why International Men’s Day is so important. Raising awareness is a crucial step in assuring men that it is okay to reach out for help. The day shares platforms of support for those who need it (such as who to talk to and where to find help), and reminds not just men, but everybody that reaching out is a sign of strength, not weakness. Whilst this message becomes most prevalent on International Men’s Day, it is a staple of K2’s people and culture all year round.

We encourage our people to reach out through open and honest communication of how we can help. At K2, we have several mental health first aiders, trained to support employees in the workplace who are experiencing mental ill health or distress. This support can vary from having a non-judgmental conversation with a colleague, through to sign posting them to additional support.

K2 is a people-driven business. What sits at the core of our work is the power of our relationships, both internally, and with our partners and clients. We understand the power of people, and what it takes to maintain healthy relationships and environments – openness, support and communication. The People & Culture pillar of our Kinetic Plan is an omnipresent reminder for K2 that nothing is more important than the wellbeing of our people. Our passion for what we do ensures everyone’s success, and it remains one of the biggest reasons for our incredible retention rate with both staff and clients; it is one of the many things that make K2 a Great Place to Work™.

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