Paternal Mental Health

Paternal Mental Health

Dads need help, too.

More specifically, though, with their mental health.

The “modern” Dad is expected to do more than any of our ancestors have done in the past. I am sure our great-grandfathers would get a laugh out of the “manly” stereotypes that Dads are pushing themselves out of. 

For instance, would our great-grandfathers be assisting with household chores that included doing laundry, cooking, grocery shopping and cleaning the house? Likely not.

Mothers have long played this dual role of homemaker and full-time employee and while we don’t discredit the mental exhaustion that it has played on them, statistically men don’t typically carry that “multi-tasking knack” as you call it - to effectively juggle all of these responsibilities. 

How does Paternal Mental Health affect the family?

The impact of a Father’s mental health is often overlooked in both social and public media. When struggling with a mental illness, the negative emotional reactions that Fathers feel are often intensified. Most often enough, Fathers begin to isolate themselves, turning to drugs or alcohol as a means to numb these difficult emotions. As a means to hide it away.

This not only impacts the individual but also co-parenting relationships. Partners naturally begin to physically and emotionally distance themselves from one another. Fathers may end up slowly retreating from the role of the caregiver, which leads to angry outbursts from both parties. 

Children want to make their Fathers proud, and having an involved Father promotes inner growth and strength. Children who grow up in a home which lacks a Father’s involvement tend to have more difficulty managing their emotions and behaviours during their teenage and adult years. When a Father is affectionate and supportive, a child’s cognitive and social development is positively affected. 

While it is essential that Fathers seek the care they so desperately need, many don’t. Likely, there are a few barriers to receiving care that prevents a Father from doing so. 

  1. Men are left to “figure things out” on their own when it comes time to transition from being a bachelor to fatherhood. 
  2. Showing emotion is a sign of weakness. At a young age, boys are often told to “walk it off” or “man up”. 
  3. Men do not have as many options. Men do not seek treatment at the same rate as women do, and because of this, clinicians have primarily been trained to support females. 

Men have the power to influence change in their families and for all the future generations that come after them. Today, many employee benefits programs offer coverage for mental wellness and therapy services in support of overall health and wellbeing (at home and in the workplace). 

It's time to take a step and set an example. When you need help, ask for it. Your feelings are real and should not be ignored. We all deserve to feel good.