June is Mens’s Mental Health Awareness Month, the same month that we celebrate dads on Fathers Day. It’s important to remember that men and new fathers also face mental health challenges when they become parents for the first time and also later when dealing with the stresses of raising children, providing for their families and balancing work, personal obligations and life, in general.
Sadly, there is a stigma that requires men to be strong all the time.
Vinay Saranga M.D. , a psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry, offers these three things to remember about men’s mental health:
1. Postpartum Depression In Men: We don’t hear much about it, but one in 10 men develop postpartum depression. That’s a statistic that’s often overlooked but can’t be ignored. We need to start the conversation during Men’s Health Month and come up with a perinatal wellness plan that includes the entire family.
2. Understand Weak vs. Strong: Feeling depressed, anxious, on-edge, exhausted, irritated, or overwhelmed does not make you weak. It’s OK to reach out for support and help when you need it. Strong men are the men who realize there’s a problem and take action to heal. After all, you wouldn’t hesitate to go to the doctor if you had diabetes, so don’t hesitate to go for your mental wellness.
3. Create Healthy “Me Time” Everyone needs a little time for self-care, especially dads. Remember that self-care is not selfish…it’s essential. Have a quiet cup of coffee, hit up the gym, or engage in your favorite activity. Hobbies and healthy activities can help you refocus and reenergize. Me time provides an opportunity to pour all your energy and strength into yourself.
4. Communicate Your Feelings: Don’t keep your feelings bottled up inside. Recognize them and talk about them openly. Set healthy boundaries and let your loved ones know what’s OK with you and what’s NOT. Try to identify your stress triggers and create healthy coping mechanisms that help you become a better father and a healthier, happier person!
5. Let go of how society defines fatherhood: Don’t for a second buy into how society defines manhood or fatherhood. You don’t always have to be strong and self-sacrificing to be a great dad. You don’t have to fit into the mold defined by the masses. Be proud of who you are, the traits and characteristics that define you, and what you stand for.
6. It’s okay to hurt: The fact is, everybody hurts sometime. There’s no avoiding it. Some people hide it better than others. Even the manliest men among us experience it. If you don’t address it, it’s only going to fester and become a larger problem. That’s true of all mental health conditions. If you don’t address them, they don’t go away on their own, and become more significant issues
Mental health is often overlooked for men because men are expected to be strong, providers, to be the helpers and not be the ones needing help.
Hopefully, reading these tips will provide a starting point on how to approach the needs of the men and dads in our lives differently. Let’s support and uplift them as well.