Often, new moms or even mothers who have raised children for years seek emotional support. Being a parent can be draining emotionally and physically, and it’s important to seek help when needed.
Although parents want to be supermoms or dads, they shouldn’t go it alone. The phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” is accurate. Centuries ago, whole communities would come together to help raise children. Now, it’s primarily up to the parents to raise their kids, which can take a toll on mental health.
Fortunately, society has generally accepted and has better understood the importance of maternal mental health and well-being. The same isn’t true for paternal mental wellness, though. Fathers experience changes in their lives as they journey through parenthood, too. Often, these challenges are absent from discussions about postpartum health.
Society has painted an image that men and dads are supposed to be strong, stable and stoic people. While many men are strong, they must get help when they need it. It’s time to break the stigma. Here are five ways to encourage dads to receive the emotional support they need.
1. Give Him the Facts
Mental health is a concern for fathers. In fact, about 10% of new dads get paternal postpartum depression (PPPD). Additionally, about 16% of fathers have an anxiety disorder throughout the perinatal period. Even though these are significant numbers from the medical perspective, men are far less likely to seek emotional support.
In a recent study regarding fathers during the pandemic, over 80% of those interviewed said they wish they had more emotional support. Men and fathers typically have fewer morale boosters. Offering these facts to the fathers in your life may make them more open to receiving help because they can understand that other fathers feel the same way.
2. Explain How It Can Help the Family
Fathers want to provide for their families. The best way for them to be open to emotional support is to explain how it can help the family overall. Supported and involved dads can be even better fathers. When a man gets the assistance he needs, he can flourish in fatherhood. It shows strength that he admitted to himself that he needs help, too.
Additionally, fathers can receive emotional benefits when they get support, whether through a fatherhood group or a therapist. They can better care for, interact and play with their children. They can also be better spouses and partners. When a father is emotionally available for his children, it helps them stay protected from adverse life outcomes and impacts their emotional development.
3. Find Father Support Groups
A great entry into further emotional support for fathers is through fatherhood support groups. These include men who are all going through similar experiences, whether a first-time dad or one caring for his family for years. Take the step for the father in your life and find one he might enjoy.
Make sure the support group has a male leader. Some men feel more comfortable talking with other men about the different struggles they face. He should be able to relate to others in the group. From there, the men in the support group may further encourage the dad in your life to seek further help, like with a professional therapist or counselor.
4. Receive Emotional Support for Yourself
Another way you can encourage dads to receive the emotional support they need is to receive emotional support for yourself. If you’re the spouse or partner to a father, you can encourage them to seek therapy, especially if you go yourself. It doesn’t hurt to talk with a counselor or therapist surrounding your mental well-being, even if you don’t think you need it. This can help take the shame away from emotional support.
Once you receive help, you can give references to the father in your life. Explain to him what goes on during therapy so he knows what to expect. Offer him suggestions on how he can deal with mental health on his own, too, like with coping and calming strategies.
5. Be Supportive and Attentive to Their Needs
Be enthusiastic about your support for the father and a possible desire to go to therapy or get emotional support. If you’re concerned about his well-being, make it clear. Tell him that you’re worried about his wellness and understand that he may not want to go, but it would be a good choice.
Be attentive to his needs at home, as well. You can help him take better care of his mental health as a dad. Let him have a day or two without the kids. Remind him what a great job he is doing as a father. Be there for him when he needs emotional support.
Begin the Conversation: Dads Need Emotional Support, Too
The best thing you can do is to begin the conversation with the father in your life who needs emotional support. Without communication, he may never know about therapy or support groups and how they can help change his life.