Fatherhood and Mental Health
Mental health of a father is important because fathers’ mental health challenges can affect the whole family. Fathers go through issues that sometimes take awareness to bring them to the limelight.
Fathers carry alot of burden and thus it is paramount that their mental health is kept in check so that the family can hold it together. The weight of responsibility is obviously overwhelming.
Fathers think of the impact, what kind of father they are going to be, what will be required of them. All this contribute in making a father experience a sense of doubt which eventually affects the transition.
Transition into fatherhood is a life event that come with a lot of expectations and challenges, as well as added responsibilities. Such challenges are stressful and if not well managed or handled can be processed by the brain as distress.
Distress also known as negative stress places one at a higher chance of developing a mental illness. Some evidence shows that around 10% of new fathers experience depression.
Imagine being single and only having you to take care of then transition to a phase where everyone’s looking up on you, wife, children, as well as your parents and perhaps other siblings. This comes with a lot of pressure and it’s even worse if you are not able to take care of your family. Moreover, the society is always ready to judge.
Fathers are known to keep to themselves because of the society’s expectation of ‘strong men’ bottled up emotions erupt at one point in life and can be seen as psychological distress.
Seeking harmful ways of dealing with the distress with the hope of solving.
Your guess could be as good as mine, on how wide this array of harmful ways could be. Shutting down, drugs, suicide, harming the family that is the “cause” of the new distress.
Sharing what you are going through or feeling with your partner can help so much in dealing with the challenge. Sometimes since men are expected to be the crucial Source of support, it can be overwhelming sometimes.
Seeking the help of a therapist might help you understand the new changes you may be going through & how to cope with them. Talking to other fathers can also help to shed some light on some of the challenges that may arise and how they faced them.
Be open with their feelings, fears or challenges. Set solid boundaries and establish clear expectations with key people they relate with. Take up hobbies and activities that enable you to decompress.
Mostly, the Mental Health status of men especially new fathers is downplayed yet it is very critical. Men need all kinds of support: mental, emotional, psychological, physical.
Let us listen to them and not shut them down when they speak out. Moreover, awareness on mental health makes it easier for them to come out and speak out their minds when they feel burdened.
The Author is a Consumer Rights Advocate at Consumer Grassroots Association, Kenya.