Putting the focus on mental health this Father’s Day

In the spirit of Father's Day, let's shine a light on the battles many dads face silently.

This Father’s Day, Vital Baby wants to talk about something important: The mental health of dads. We’re diving into how these struggles affect not just dads, but their families too. There are solutions out there that modern dads can tap into to stay on top of their mental well-being.

The stigma surrounding mental health for men leads to under-diagnosis and under-treatment among fathers. Despite increasing awareness, many men still hesitate to seek help due to societal pressures and misconceptions about masculinity. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, a father to three daughters, has openly shared his battles with depression. Reflecting on his journey, Johnson said, “Years ago I didn’t know what mental health struggle was. As men, we didn’t talk about it. We just kept our head down and worked through it. Not healthy but it’s all we knew.” Johnson’s candidness about his struggles highlights the importance of breaking the silence and seeking support. “I lost two friends to suicide. Talk to someone. Despite how you may feel, you’re never alone,” Johnson urges.

A father’s mental health profoundly affects his partner, children, and the overall family dynamic. When fathers struggle silently, the emotional and psychological well-being of the entire family is at risk. Mental health professionals stress the importance of addressing the specific needs of fathers. Dr. Anthony Nedelman, a prominent expert in paternal mental health, emphasises the critical importance of early intervention and inclusive support systems to ensure fathers receive the help they need. “In the modern world, dads are juggling more responsibilities than ever before,” says Dr. Nedelman, a fellow in the Department of Family Medicine at MetroHealth Medical Center. “From diaper changes to cooking dinner and arranging playdates, the list seems endless. Yet, the mental health struggles of fathers are often overlooked. It’s time we recognise that fathers play a crucial role in family stability and well-being.” Children of fathers who experience untreated mental health issues are at higher risk of emotional and behavioural problems, and partners often bear additional stress, which can strain the family dynamic and create an environment of tension and uncertainty. Recognising and addressing the mental health needs of fathers is essential for the well-being of the entire family.

Despite the clear need, there remains a significant gap in support for fathers’ mental health. Practitioners and organisations are increasingly recognising this gap and responding with initiatives promoting mental health awareness among fathers and offering accessible resources. These initiatives include support groups, therapy options, and online tools tailored specifically for fathers. By providing flexible delivery options and developing father-inclusive policies, organisations are making it easier for fathers to access the help they need. For example, online platforms such as HeadsUpGuys offer resources specifically aimed at men’s mental health, while Fathers’ Mental Health Network focuses on support and advocacy for fathers. These resources are essential in creating a more supportive and inclusive mental health landscape, ensuring that fathers can find the help they need when they need it.

As we celebrate Father’s Day, it is vital to acknowledge and support the mental health journey of fathers. By fostering a culture of inclusivity and prioritising paternal mental well-being, we not only empower fathers but also pave the way for healthier, happier families. Vital Baby remains committed to raising awareness and providing the necessary resources to ensure fathers receive the support they need. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group has a list support groups, as well as emergency numbers if you, or a dad or man you know is struggling.


For more on parenting and kids, visit Get It Magazine.

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