THE statistics are stark and speak for themselves.

According to research published by The Samaritans, more than one-third of men in Scotland aged 20-59 do not seek help when they feel burdened, preferring to solve their problems by themselves.

The charity recently launched a campaign to encourage men to speak out but with more than 80 per cent of UK men aged 16-64 years in work, it is clear that employers have a significant opportunity to influence behaviours and address the stigma associated with asking for help.

It also makes strong business sense. Research shows that improving the wellbeing of employees has a positive impact on workplace performance. This is something that we have seen for ourselves; after we introduced our acclaimed four-day week over two years ago, productivity soared by 30%.

So, what should employers be doing? Unfortunately, there is no instruction manual, but since seeing first hand the positive impact of our four-day week on the mental wellbeing of employees, who now have more time to spend with their families, or to simply unwind and de-stress, we have introduced a wide range of support.

At the centre of our mental wellbeing measures is a free, weekly onsite drop-in counselling session, operated on a private and confidential basis. One-to-one sessions are also available offsite to ensure employees can arrange meetings with someone they are comfortable with at the time and location that suits them best.

These consultations have helped to identify and tackle the issues causing our staff most concern, such as: pressure to be the breadwinner and the ‘strong one’ in a relationship; financial burdens, including payday loans, fears over living month-to-month and failing to get on the property ladder; and family concerns ranging from bereavement to caring responsibilities and infertility.

To address financial concerns, Pursuit has settled payday loans (or similar) directly with the financial companies and offered employees 0% finance loans spread over longer term salaries to improve their financial position. When a loan is provided the employee must attend counselling and Money Advice sessions to form good habits for the future.

We also offer a salary deduction scheme for holiday bookings with Barrhead Travel, and our partnership with Glasgow Credit Union enables us to encourage saving via payroll deduction – creating good money management habits and helping staff be prepared for life.

Complementary therapies - hypnotherapy, mediation, yoga, hot yoga - are offered as part of our overall wellbeing programme and we have two accredited mental health first aiders within the office who are fully trained to recognise when someone is developing a mental health issue and guide them towards accessing professional help.

Uptake of the measures we have implemented has been strong. Our counselling sessions are booked out weekly, and our providers are delivering frequent external consultations.

We can't claim to have found a magic wand. The stigma around men seeking help for mental health problems is deeply entrenched, especially in the west of Scotland where there has traditionally been a macho culture that encourages men to conceal their feelings and ‘man up'.

We have also found there is little process or external support available for employers when a member of staff suffers a mental health crisis in the workplace. We would like to see a more structured approach in the NHS to working with employers to make sure employees get the help they need. Mental health problems are the leading cause of sickness absence with 70 million days lost in the UK annually at an estimated cost to employers of £2.4 billion.

But we are proud of how far we have come, and we hope it will inspire other businesses to consider their approach. According to our counsellors, 87% of those accessing our sessions are male, suggesting that when a helping hand is offered by an employer, men are willing to take it and seek the support they need.

Lorraine Gray is a director at Pursuit Marketing