In our society, dads and father figures are perceived as the ultimate symbol of strength and stability (think about all those Superman Father’s Day cards out there). Unfortunately, this constant need to be perceived as strong all the time can prevent men from getting the help they need and force them to hide behind their mental health issues. June is Men’s Health Month. Let’s change the false narrative.
Psychiatrist Vinay Saranga, M.D., suggests we consider these six things:
2. Understand Weak vs. Strong: Feeling depressed, anxious, on edge, exhausted, irritated, or overwhelmed does not make a man weak. It’s okay to reach out for support and help when needed. Strong men realize there’s a problem and take action to heal.
3. Create Healthy “Me Time”: Everyone needs a little time for self-care, including dads. Remember that self-care is not selfish . . . it’s essential. Have some quiet time with a 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 Four 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 okay with you and what’s NOT. Try to identify your stress triggers and create healthy coping mechanisms that help you become a better husband, father and a healthier, happier person!
5. Let Go of How Society Defines Fatherhood: Don’t buy into how society defines manhood or fatherhood. You don’t always need 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 sometimes. 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.
Vinay Saranga, M.D., is a psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry