This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental health affects us all, regardless of gender. Believe it or not, 1 in 10 new dads will suffer from postnatal depression.
We want to encourage all men to find the path to a healthier, happier version of themselves so ultimately, they can be the best fathers possible.
Here at The Dadsnet, we’ve decided to bare all (quite literally) to raise awareness and tackle the issues of men’s mental health, especially amongst fathers. The #FatherFigures campaign aims to both increase knowledge and awareness of mental health in dads and highlight the link between our mental well-being and body perceptions.
#FatherFigures encourages dads to celebrate their bodies, whilst breaking down societal stereotypes of what a ‘normal’ body should look like. We want to promote positive body confidence amongst fathers and encourage men to open up about their mental health and provide much-needed support.
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When you look at some of the stats out there, you’ll see why it’s much-needed:
- 1 in 4 men is affected by mental health problems or illness. And 1 in 8 men is diagnosed with a mental health illness in the UK.
- 1 in 10 new dads will suffer from PND.
- Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales
- Around 3/4 of suicides in the UK were male.
- Men suffering from severe forms of body dissatisfaction has increased threefold in the last 25 years.*
- More than four in five men (81%) talk in ways that promote anxiety about their body image by referring to perceived flaws and imperfections, compared with 75% of women.**
- 80% talk about their own or others’ appearance in ways that draw attention to weight, lack of hair or slim frame. **
- Body image not only affects how we see ourselves, it affects how we interact with others and how we behave. It affects our physical and mental health and it can impact on our children.
The #FatherFigure campaign isn’t just about raising awareness that many fathers suffer from mental health issues and recognising when our stress levels are increasing, identifying what is causing the stress and trying to find ways to manage this.
It’s also a to call to action for those that are suffering:
- You’re not alone – stay connected by joining a safe community of dads like The Dad Network. (13,000 members, that’s at least 1,300 who’ve experienced PND!)
- Talk about your feelings – find someone you can trust – a close friend, a family member or someone you know will be supportive. It is not shameful to have these feelings, everyone experiences emotions; it’s a normal part of being human.
- Eat well – evidence suggests that good nutrition is essential for our mental health
- Stay aware of your alcohol consumption as this depressant can have a negative impact on mental health.
- Take time out – relaxing gives your mind and body time to recover from the stresses of everyday life.
- Appreciate your body as it is – we come in all shapes and sizes and we do not have to conform to societal stereotypes.
- Keep active – physical activity is beneficial to your mental well-being.
- Ask for help – It is courageous to recognise and ask for help if you need it.
- Read more about mental health – to help understand what others have been through and what can be done to help.
Dr Emma Hepburn, Clinical Psychologist says,
“Men’s, and Dads’, mental health is an important area where we need to increase knowledge and awareness, and reduce stigma. Research suggests that Men are less likely to seek mental health support or disclose their concerns to friends and family. For dads, parenthood presents a number of challenges to mental health and research show there are higher rates of mental health conditions in the early years of fatherhood. Increasing awareness and knowledge of men’s mental health, and ways to seek help and support can help break down some of the barriers men face when they experience mental health difficulties”.
Dr Andrew Mayers, a psychologist at Bournemouth University who specialises in perinatal mental health, says,
“The causes of mental health problems, such as postnatal depression, are every bit as relevant for dads as they are for mums. Often, the perception is that postnatal depression is hormonal, so could not possibly affect fathers. But hormones only play a small part. Environmental and social factors, such as social support, poverty, relationships changes, education, and stigma, are a much better predictor. These equally apply to dads. We need to encourage more dads to seek help”
So what now?
Well, you can join the many dads and demonstrate your support for the campaign by uploading a photograph of a part of your body with #FatherFigures written on it using the #FatherFigures. And if you’re a mum, and you’d like to show your support, you can do the same or write and photograph your children’s dad!
Father’s mental health is important for their own well-being, their offspring’s health, and the stability of the family environment. Dads are rarely asked about their mental health and few services are available to them making campaigns like #FatherFigures even more important.
Photo Credit: Chris Hogben Photography