“I felt an overwhelming sense of, the stakes have just gone up!"
That’s how father-of-three and global health promotions consultant for The Movember Foundation, Jeremy Macvean describes his introduction to fatherhood.
“My health means so much more, my income means so much more. Everything is so much more important. Life gets more real and so much more pressured and this hit me in an unexpected way.”
Jeremy's personal experiences have helped him and the Movember team come up with a new program, that concentrates of tackling the level of social isolation for dads.
Listen to Jeremy on Kinderling Conversation:
Targeting social isolation
“There’s an expectation now for dads to be more hands-on, which is great. But this brings difficult challenges and experiences, especially around balancing work/life. It’s definitely a stressful time," says Jeremy.
While women also experience stress when becoming parents, we're often far better supported. As soon as we walk out of hospital we’re ushered into a mother’s group and there are plenty of opportunities to find our own community.
The same opportunities are not available for men and that’s become a focus for Movember this year.
“We’re about improving personal and social connections for dads and encouraging them to reach out for help,” says Jeremy.
“That’s why we started DGI, that’s Dads Group Incorporated. It connects men locally in a way that mum’s groups do. And what’s great about that is it provides a space for men to share the unique struggles of parenting, like heading to work without much sleep, with people doing the same.”
Women can help men build relationships
Jeremy says women can also encourage their men to take opportunities to reach out to other blokes.
“Guys just aren’t as good at building relationships and reaching out to people. It’s not that natural for us to speak about our personal situations and we’re not always comfortable sharing personal situations,” says Jeremy.
You can also help them deal with the guilt they might feel (just like women do) to take time out for themselves.
“They might feel bad that they’re not home helping, so remind him (and yourself) that being socially connected is one of the best things we can do for our health,” says Jeremy.
Kick toxic masculinity to the curb
Encouraging male friendships is also a really great way to tackle toxic masculinity head-on.
“Men are brought up to be stoic and strong, sort it out, get it done, don’t show vulnerability.
"It’s actually strong and gutsy to drop your guard; that shows real strength. Courage is a great quality but it doesn’t mean isolating yourself and not being honest about how you’re really feeling.”
At the end of the day, a happier dad means a happier family.
Everyone can benefit from that.
More from our Dad's Mental Health series
- Why we need to start talking about dad's mental health with Dr Catherine Wade
- Why are dads still struggling with postnatal depression
- Dads and PND: Why texting is part of the solution
- 1 in 5 dads are anxious and depressed so how do we change that?
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