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Men's Mental Health in the Gig Economy: Balancing Well-being and Productivity

June 30, 2023

The significance of Men's Mental Health Awareness Month cannot be overstated, as it shines a light on the crucial yet often overlooked aspect of overall well-being: men's mental health. 

Society's deeply ingrained stereotypes and rigid masculine ideals often stifle open conversation about mental health among men, leading to a pervasive silence around the issue. 

This silence breeds not only personal suffering but also far-reaching societal ramifications, most notably in the form of escalating rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide among men. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 any time day or night, or chat online.

In this light, prioritizing men's mental health becomes especially essential within the gig economy due to the unique and often challenging stressors gig workers encounter.

I’ve begun saying no to things. This year I've been saying no to virtual speaking opportunities and conferences. I've also started to opt into more in person meetings, especially in other people's cities. I'm Zoomed out after the last 3 years. I still love the meeting efficiency internally, and even externally, but I decided to dial back the volume of conferences and virtual speaking engagements. So I'm saying no and getting back to traveling and mixing it up face to face. Though there is also a lot of in person stuff I say no to as well, it’s all a pendulum and this works for me now." - Craig J. Lewis, Founder and CEO of Gig Wage 

Mental health: a critical focus for male gig workers

Irregular income, long hours, a lack of job security, and isolation can trigger heightened levels of stress and anxiety.

Navigating these challenges requires not only resilience but also an intentional focus on maintaining mental health. As an investment, mental health care promotes emotional well-being, prevents burnout, and fosters feelings of connection and support. It's a critical asset for men in the gig economy, enhancing focus, productivity, and work satisfaction.

“I box once a week. It’s a way of shutting my brain off and focusing on immediate things. I feel better after it.” – Robert Belsky, VP of Finance and Operations 

Accessible mental health support: VURV Health

When it comes to seeking support for mental health, resources like VURV Health make the process more accessible and less daunting. VURV Health provides affordable, local healthcare services at discounted rates, helping individuals manage their healthcare on their own terms. 

Through their mobile app, men can easily find local providers and book appointments with just a few taps––no health checks required.

“Developing a consistent and intentional yoga & meditation practice has dramatically improved my mental health over the past several years. It helps me prioritize myself while giving me space to slow down, process thoughts, or have none. I operate from a place of gratitude in a way I wasn't aware was possible, and I attribute this to these daily practices.” – Dennis Howell, Operations Manager

Voices from Gig Wage: practices and perspectives

Several Gig Wagers have shared their personal strategies for maintaining mental health, offering insight and inspiration for others navigating similar circumstances. 

Craig J. Lewis, Founder & CEO of Gig Wage, has found balance by saying "no" more often, scaling back on virtual engagements, and prioritizing face-to-face interactions. On the other hand, Robert Belsky, VP of Finance and Operations, has found boxing to be an effective mental release.

Others, like Operations Manager Dennis Howell, have incorporated practices like yoga and meditation into their routines, finding them instrumental in managing mental health.

Carl Smith, VP of Technology, promotes a mindset that separates facts from fiction, a sentiment echoed in the words of Shakespeare: "Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

“I've started taking cold showers, which really give me a great all around feeling of well being, but aside from that, I find a great deal of peace of mind can be found in learning how to separate facts from narrative. Things happen, but it's what we think about what happened that drives emotions, good or bad. Or like Shakespeare put it, 'Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so'." – Carl Smith, VP of Technology

Balance, movement, and creativity in mental health management

Physical activity and creativity also serve as potent tools for mental health management. 

David Diaz, Director of Product Operations, relies on activities like fishing, gym sessions, or playing music. Visual Creative Director Jae Oates engages in martial arts as a form of meditation and focus amidst a busy life.

Senior Software Engineer Ben Mercer opts for morning walks and exploration of new cities before work hours, promoting movement and free thinking.

Each individual's approach may differ, but they all underscore the significance of male mental health management. They illustrate the diversity of strategies and reinforce that there's no one-size-fits-all solution for mental health––what matters is finding what works for each individual.

“I think there’s always room for improvement but for me recently I’ve tried to find small spaces for myself in between the busy nature of life. Being a father, husband and business owner my plate is full. I know for me personally I’m never going to take my mind off of work completely so I try to find spaces that help me expand my thinking in different ways. Aside from reading, I take Wing Chun which is a form of Martial Arts.” – Jae Oates, Visual Creative Director

The continuous journey: mental health in progress

VP of Marketing, Ben Virdee-Chapman, offers a poignant reminder that the journey to mental health is ongoing, and the process can be fraught with challenges. 

Through personal loss and struggle, he has found solace in chess, purposeful work, and the love and support of his family. This mirrors the collective experience of many men in the gig economy and highlights the importance of continuously seeking and adapting strategies for mental health management.

“I've been in Europe for the past month, but working EST hours so I've been waking up at 10am and having 5 hours of time during the day to explore new cities on foot before opening up my computer. It's my version of the 4am Club, which I've realized isn't about waking up super early in the morning, but more about having time dedicated to movement and free thinking before work. By the time 3pm hits in Budapest (9am in Miami) I'm on my second cortado and ready to build cool tools to get people their money!” - Ben Mercer, Senior Software Engineer

Tools for mental health management

In the face of these adversities, men in the gig economy may find several tools and strategies helpful. For some, physical activities like boxing, martial arts, or even taking cold showers, serve as essential stress-relievers.

Others may find solace in creative pursuits, such as playing music or exploring new cities. Mindful practices, such as yoga, meditation, or thoughtful reflection, offer additional pathways to mental resilience.

“Fishing, going to the gym or taking a walk, playing music are all different ways I center myself mentally.” – David Diaz, Director of Product Operations

Technology also plays a vital role in this journey

Mobile apps like VURV Health have democratized access to mental health care, making it easier for individuals to seek support when needed. These resources not only provide immediate relief but also promote long-term mental well-being by making healthcare a consistent, manageable part of daily life.

“I don’t think I do a good job at managing my mental health. I lost significant strength and resilience when I lost my brother in 2015 and then my dad in 2020. But I also commit to finding new ways and that has sort of become its own remedy. Chess helps greatly. Having purpose in work helps greatly. Unlocking a new lesson about life helps greatly. Walking and resistance training helps greatly. Feeling overwhelming, unconditional love from my wife and son helps greatly. Hand to hand combat with my Ego, helps greatly.” – Ben Virdee-Chapman, VP of Marketing

The role of the workplace in promoting mental health

Businesses and organizations have a vital role to play in promoting men's mental health, particularly within the gig economy. Workplaces can foster an environment that encourages open conversation about mental health, breaking down the stigma associated with vulnerability and help-seeking. Providing access to resources and support for mental health care is an integral part of this process.

Workplaces can also encourage healthy work habits that support mental strength. This can include encouraging regular breaks, promoting a gig-life balance, and offering flexibility that allows workers to manage their mental health effectively.

Prioritizing men's mental health in the gig economy

As we mark Men's Mental Health Awareness Month, it's critical to acknowledge the importance of mental health, especially within the often challenging dynamics of the gig economy. The narratives from some of our own team underscore the diversity of personal experiences and coping strategies, illuminating a spectrum of approaches that may resonate with different individuals.

While mental health management is a deeply personal journey, it doesn't have to be a solitary one. 

Through a collective acknowledgment of the challenges faced, along with the provision of necessary resources and support, we can foster an environment that not only accepts but encourages conversations around men's mental health. This shift can help challenge harmful stereotypes, support men in their mental health journey, and ultimately foster healthier, more resilient individuals and communities.

This Men's Mental Health Awareness Month, let's commit to breaking the silence and cultivating a culture that encourages men (and everyone) to prioritize their mental health. Because a healthier mind is not just beneficial for the individual—it benefits us all.

Your mental health in your hands

Exploring and managing your mental health can be an empowering journey, one that is made easier with the right resources. VURV Health is here to provide affordable and accessible health care options for everyone, especially those in the gig economy. Take control of your mental health and make your well-being a priority today.

Remember, it's okay to ask for help, and it's never been easier to seek the support you need. Check if VURV Health is right for you by taking a short quiz. 

Prioritize your mental health, manage your healthcare on your own terms, and discover how much brighter life can be when you're feeling your best. After all, as we move into a future where work patterns are changing rapidly, your mental well-being is a significant part of your success.