Direct from
Dr. Lowenstein

June is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month

4 Mental Health Tips for Dads

June is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month, which may come as no surprise given that Father’s Day is June 16. That makes it an opportune time to talk about the importance of mental health for dads. It’s a topic that demands attention. In 2022, it was estimated that 19.7% of men in the U.S. had some type of mental illness in the past year. Far too many of them did not receive treatment. That may be because men are less likely to talk about it—the result of society’s expectation that men should be more masculine and that mental health struggles connote weakness. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.  

Like everyone else, men need to prioritize their mental health. This is especially true for fathers because we know from research that parents’ struggles can impact their children. Kids watch how a parent copes with issues such as anger or sadness, and they often adopt those behaviors. If a parent is not coping well, it could result in a number of poor behaviors, from alcohol or drug abuse to a host of physical problems, irritability, anger, and more. This sends the wrong message to kids about how to manage mental health issues.

Watch for the signs

Instead, fathers need to be aware of the signs of mental illness, which include everything from mood swings and frustration to sleep problems and an overall state of depression, to name just a few. When these symptoms are persistent over a period of time, it’s important to seek professional help. Keep in mind that there may be certain periods when fathers are more susceptible to mental health issues, such as when a new child is born, when one of the family breadwinners loses a job, when financial pressures stack up, and more.

Tips for managing your mental health

Here are a few things you can do to prepare for life’s pressures before they take a toll on your family:

  • Build relationships with people you trust. Whether friends or family members, these should be individuals with whom you’re comfortable sharing your struggles. Ideally, your partner or spouse will be that person. But in certain circumstances, she may be experiencing some of the same pressures that you are. With that in mind, you may also want to connect with other fathers, a brother, your dad, and/or a healthcare professional.
  • Avoid isolation. Western culture tends to value individualism, sending a message that you can do everything on your own. Add to that the fact that as a society we’ve become increasingly isolated from one another, thanks to technology and a host of other factors. Instead, look for ways to connect with people in your community, such as churches, schools, community groups, and neighbors.  
  • Be an involved parent. Parenting can be challenging, but it can also be immensely rewarding. It can feel overwhelming when you’re in the throes of it, especially when your child is ill or facing particular challenges. That’s why it’s critical to develop a support system with your partner, spouse, family members, pediatrician, and friends. Whenever possible, plan for the unexpected by managing your financial resources. And try to keep things in perspective by managing your workload so that it doesn’t consume your life.  
  • Take care of your physical health. Parenting is not an easy job, and it requires stamina. To help ensure your physical and mental health is at its best, get plenty of sleep, make good food choices, and incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. If necessary, recruit a friend or family member to occasionally help with the parenting duties so you have time to devote to personal care and well-being. And be sure to carve out a little time for the things you love, even if you can’t devote as many hours to these endeavors as you once did.

Let this month be a reminder to all dads to make their mental health a priority and for the rest of us to support them as they navigate the challenges and rewards that come with being a father.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.