Mental health has been high on everyone’s agenda in the last year, particularly dads mental health. The pandemic has had a huge impact on mental health. Whether that has been through isolation, financial impact or the stress and anxiety of the situation. It has been really tough.
Men’s mental health is something that we feel strongly about raising awareness of. A lot of men find it hard to talk about their mental well-being, and dads mental health is something we should explore more. The high suicide rates in men is something that needs to be tackled, and one way to start is by talking about dads mental health.
May was been Mental Health Awareness Month, and we asked some of our community to tell us about their mental health journey so far – this is what they told us.
Dad’s and Mum’s Mental Health journey’s – in their own words.
My first experience of fatherhood was a tough one. We had twins who were born too early at 22 weeks and sadly didn’t survive.
This was a really hard time for us both, it was a lot of emotions to deal with. You are planning for something for so long and in what seems like a flash, everything changes and we were left with so much sadness.
This was a long journey of recovery and we still find it difficult to talk about now, but it brought us closer as a couple and we learnt to lean on each other for support.
When Rosie was 7 months pregnant with Hayden, I lost my job and struggled to find a new one. This affected me massively and my confidence was on the floor. Not being able to provide for my family was a very daunting thought.
Luckily I have a good support network who are all very supportive and allowed me to talk and express myself. Rosie and I worked as a team and we got ourselves through it and I got to spend Hayden’s first year of this life with him, which I will forever be grateful for.
Men need to know it’s okay to talk, it’s okay to feel like things are too much and it’s okay to look for support.
Its okay to talk, opening up and being honest about the way you are feeling is not a sign of weakness and sharing will help you feel better. A problem shared is a problem halved.
I don’t believe people grasp the severity of mental health as a father. The pressure society puts on us to be the provider, the strength. The indestructible force for our households physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
Society tells us that we can barely afford to bend, so breaking is not an option. However sometimes things need to breakdown to be rebuilt. I’m coming to a place personally, and we have to come to a place as a society, where we understand and accept that it is okay to not be okay.
We need the same opportunity for vulnerability. It takes a strong man to be strong. It takes a stronger man to weak. But it takes a loved man to regain his strength. When we can draw strength from each other, most importantly our families, that’s when a man truly becomes indestructible.
My mental health journey as a parent has been brilliant and pretty bad at times. We had 2 deaths in the family. My brother just four weeks after my son was born. Then my dad (after only knowing him for 5 years, but that’s another story!), two months after he turned 1. Grieving and being mummy full time to a newborn was very stressful.
I started back on medication and used tools from past therapy sessions to help me grieve. I still have bad days, but now the good outweigh them. I’m in a much better place and have a positive outlook on life.
Mental health awareness is so so important for everyone, and to me especially. Growing up I had two older brothers, they both suffered with their mental health terribly. The eldest was schizophrenic and psychotic, the other was paranoid schizophrenic. My eldest brother took his own life because of his mental illness.
He didn’t have the support he needed. To me it’s really important for people to understand it’s really is okay not to be okay. Some people need help recognising their mental illnesses. Some people, like me, are able to know when they are slipping and can, most of the time, help themselves.
Dadvengers has an important role in my mental health journey. Just knowing that people are going through the same thing and that they have my back really helps. If I need to rant or need some advice and of course making me howl with laughter. You have to have the bad times in life to appreciate how great the good times really are. Taking time to look after myself is so important. Of course my son is my inspiration for a better future and to be the best version of me I can be.
I used to exercise almost every single day, including weekends. I never realised how all the physical activity, the competition, the socialising and the banter with a group of like minded people had an incredibly positive impact on my mental health.
When you’re going through something physically or mentally by yourself, it’s difficult. I’ve learnt that when you’re at your best or your worst, everything is easier when those experiences are shared.
Four years ago, one of my closest friends, also a husband and a dad, lost his own battle with mental health. No one knew of his struggles. This really highlighted to me how we sometimes never know what others are going through. It brought home to me the importance of sharing and making sure I looked after myself both physically and mentally. Not just for myself, but for my family.
My mental health is good at present because I tend to consistently plant positive thoughts in my head. The one thing I think it is so important to reassure another person it’s okay not to be okay. I am extremely grateful for everything and everyone in my life. This allows me to look at life from the place of how blessed and fortunate I truly am.
Firstly, I do not claim to know anything about ‘mental health’, often I know very little about my own mental health, and it’s not likely that I would know anything about yours. What I do know is that my life has improved massively since I confronted my own mental situation and communicated with those around me about what I was going through. I’ve found what helps me feel better on a daily, weekly and monthly basis and I encourage you to do this also.
Parenthood has immense stresses, and in order to be the dad I want to be I must recognise what is needed to keep me mentally and physically well. There’s no secret code or private club for keeping healthy, It is sometimes right in front of us.
I grew up living with the effects of close family members and ex-boyfriend’s mental health issues. They were struggling with their own mental health, which inevitably had an impact on mine. The positives I’ve taken from these experiences has been to see the lessons in them. To be empathetic towards others, and support where / if appropriate. Mental health is and always will be a learning curve.
I recognise when I’m needing support to keep myself well, so I can be present for my family. Don’t get me wrong, it’s taken years of counselling and mindfulness and I’m still learning.
My husband and I realised that communication and active listening is key to fully supporting each other. As parents, we are already encouraging our little one to do this by labelling emotions and discussing them. We also think it is key not to label emotions as good or bad, to prevent embarrassment or shame. This also actively encourages openness about our feelings.
Recently, I attended a mental health talk with Clarke Carlisle and his wife Carrie. They use the word “health” as a holistic term, and this is something I agree with. Mental health shouldn’t be something that is discussed as a separate entity. Instead, it should be a holistic part of our health and well-being – it needs to be tended to and normalised in order to function constructively to the best of our ability. This encourages us to have genuine, empathetic conversations that we all need and enables us to have support in place to speak out when we aren’t feeling our healthy selves.
As a new parent, your kid becomes your priority. As a dad, you also tend to prioritise the mum’s well-being too. Unintentionally, we can end up neglecting ourselves as we try to be everything for everyone else. We all need to realise that we cannot keep giving if we don’t also take care of ourselves too.
The Importance of Talking about Dads Mental Health
One dad feeling alone in their mental health journey is one too many. By creating an open dialogue about dads mental health we will make a positive change. It will help more dads realise that they are not alone, which in turn will help them feel comfortable to reach out for help when they need it.
There is a wealth of support out there, through friends and family. Through your friendly Dadvengers parenting community, and through professionals. If you would like to find some support in your local area visit Hub of Hope, enter your postcode and find what is available near to you. Or you can contact the Samaritans anytime for mental health support.
There is never any shame is asking for support. One place to start is with a parent community. And if we had to pick one thing we have learnt through the experiences shared by our community – it is okay not to be okay.
Do You Want to Talk About Dads Mental Health?
Has this post got you thinking about dad’s mental health? Do you have your own mental health journey you’d like to share? Get in touch in the comments section below, or via the contact page, and share this and other Dadvengers Posts with your family and parenting friends.
Dadvengers is a community of parents (that’s Mums and Dads) focused on supporting Dads on their journey through parenthood.