Mental Health Matters: Menopause

Riona Mulherin

Riona Mulherin

11 December 2023
Following on from World Menopause Day on 18th October, I thought I would focus my next article on the menopause. Before you might think, ‘that won’t affect me’ and stop reading – please believe me, it will! I would encourage everyone to take the time to gain a greater understanding on this important subject that will inevitably effect you or someone you know at some point, whether that be family members, friends or colleagues.

For a bit of background, the menopause is a natural stage of life which affects most women and other people who have a menstrual cycle. The menopause usually happens between 45 and 55 years of age, the average age being 51 years, but it can also happen earlier or later in someone's life. For many people symptoms last about 4 years, but in some cases can last a lot longer. There are 4 different stages to the menopause: pre-menopause, peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause.

Some of the statistics that were mentioned on World Menopause Day in October were astounding, here are a few that stuck with me which I feel everyone should be aware of:
•    More than 75% of women and other people who have a menstrual cycle experience menopausal symptoms
•    67% of individuals who have experienced menopause said it had a mostly negative impact on them at work
•    70% of those experiencing menopause feel uncomfortable discussing this at work
•    An estimated 14 million working days are lost to menopause each year in the UK (which equates to £1.88 billion in lost productivity)
•    1 in 10 of menopausal individuals quit their job due to menopause symptoms (based on a survey of 4,000 women aged 45-55)
•    67% of those who have experiences menopausal symptoms (aged 40 to 60 in employment) say they have had a mostly negative effect on them at work. 
•    Many commonly reported symptoms include memory loss, anxiety, loss of confidence, panic attacks, reduced concentration, depression and low moods, amongst many, many more.

Reading those statistics, it is clear this is an area which we can no longer ignore; we have got to change the conversation around menopause and start to take positive action to support those going through any stage of the menopause. Beyond the physical changes that are often discussed, the menopause transition clearly also significantly influences mental health. It's not just about hot flashes and night sweats; the hormonal shifts during menopause can create a complex interplay of emotions as demonstrated by the statistics outlined above.

The menopausal transition is not a one-size-fits-all experience, and the impact on mental health varies from person to person. For some, the challenges may be fleeting, while for others, they may persist for an extended period. Seeking support from healthcare professionals, friends, or support groups can provide a crucial lifeline during this time. I believe it's essential to recognise that mental health is as much a part of the menopausal conversation as physical symptoms. 

Practical tips: How can we support those going through the menopause?
I thought it would be useful to outline some of the ways that we can support individuals within the workplace to create a better, more inclusive working environment. By fostering awareness, understanding, and open dialogue, we can ensure that individuals approaching or experiencing menopause are  better equipped to prioritise and maintain their mental well-being and avoid the potential negative impact on their career. Please see below my ideas on ways you can support individuals impacted by the menopause. Can you implement any of the below with your team? 

•    Increasing education and raising awareness – can you look at implementing training programs to educate employees and managers about menopause, its symptoms, and its potential impact on someone at work?
•    Encouraging open conversations and offering a safe space to discuss the menopause and its effects, thus reducing the stigma that surrounds this topic.
•    In addition to open conversations, it’s really important to also offer confidential communication channels where someone struggling can seek support if needed, without fear of judgment.
•    Flexible working arrangements – can you offer any flexibility to someone struggling with menopausal symptoms (e.g. fatigue, temperature, low moods, energy levels etc.).
•    Being aware of the temperature and ideally offering a quiet space or rest area where a menopausal individual could feel more comfortable 
•    Signposting where individuals can get more support, such as explaining how your company can offer support (this may be via line managers, menopause champions if you have them, support groups) or sharing useful resources.
•    Support for line managers on how to support their team members in this area, helping them to be understanding and empathetic.
•    Encouraging health and well-being initiatives within your company, perhaps around stress management, physical exercises, nutrition or mindfulness – this can of course benefit other employees too! 

For most companies, this will be a journey to improve support and enhance the workplace experience for those effected – it is great to see many companies starting to take this into consideration, and I would strongly recommend asking for feedback from those who have direct experience and can help you to shape your policies. What is clear is that by fostering a workplace culture that recognises and accommodates the challenges associated with menopause, organisations can not only retain valuable team members but also contribute to the overall well-being and job satisfaction of their workforce and potentially attract new talent too.

Christine Newell, our Mortgage Technical Director, Diane Jones, our Mortgage Helpdesk Manager, and I have been working hard on creating greater menopause support internally within Paradigm. We have a wealth of resources that you may find interesting or of help – if you’d like us to share these, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, you can email me at [email protected]

Finally, a note on International Men's Day (a global awareness day for many issues that men face, including parental alienation, abuse, homelessness, suicide, and violence) which takes place annually on 19th November. I thought I would share two particularly relevant resources of note that I’ve come across in the last couple of months that you may not have seen:

A powerful video from Norwich City Football Club – ‘Check in on those around you’
An insightful event from YuLife - "Man Up": How to Support Men's Health in the Workplace, you can watch on catch up here

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Office address: 1310 Solihull Parkway, Birmingham Business Park, Birmingham B37 7YB
Paradigm Mortgage Services LLP is registered in England and Wales. Company No: OC323403. Registered Office: Paradigm House, Brooke Court, Lower Meadow Road, Wilmslow, SK9 3ND
Paradigm Mortgage Services LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership.