Men's mental health tends to be under-serviced, especially for fathers and dads. There are many contributing factors to this but either way - it remains a special area of interest in our practice. While we feel privileged and honored to work with identity as you define it - we recognize that gender is fluid and not everyone's experience is the same!
Men's mental health for dads shows up in different ways than women's and moms' experience of mental health. Here are some things we see differently!
1. Depression in men has different symptoms
Generally speaking, women's depressive symptoms can include tearfulness and social withdrawal. Since men don't typically socialize in the same way as women, social withdrawal may be difficult to spot. Depression in men may often show up as irritability, anger, controlling behaviors, defensiveness, low motivation, preoccupation with video games, and increased use of substances.
2. Men have postpartum emotions too!
Many men engage in counseling postpartum to discuss men's postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression. One client shared that he feels overwhelmed with the pressure of the responsibility of a new baby, the change in his spouse, crisis and traumas that occurred during delivery, the anxiety of baby preparation, and changes in the family finances - decreased income and increased expenses.
3. Men's roles in labor and delivery
We have actually diagnosed and treated men with PTSD after the delivery process! Clients have shared with us the fear and disabling feeling of powerlessness they felt when their precious wives experience trauma during delivery. While we support midwives, we've often heard that the last-minute changes that can occur place difficult pressure on the men who wish to protect and provide for their families.
4. Developing identity
The role of men in our society has evolved exponentially and this has impacted men's mental health. While women have been recently raised with "you can be or do anything" men have not had the same positive encouragement nor do they always have role models to follow as their counterparts have evolved and grown. Male clients have shared that they experience mental health crises as they realize that they are recreating their identities without finding a guide or mold! Furthermore, they often discuss feeling emotional stress between their family of origin and the family they are creating. This change and transition can cause a lot of stress without necessarily having the skills and tools to cope and manage.
We feel privileged and honored to work with the fabulous men in our practice to help them process experiences of the past and use them to develop skills and tools to be the father's they want to be and to be an active and positive part of the family identity!
Happy Father's Day from all of us at FKC!
Farah M. Kurji is an advanced trained clinician specializing in trauma, loss, anxiety and depression. She includes EMDR, CBT & Yoga among her treatment modalities. Farah also provides clinical consultations and debriefing. You can book with her or her team HERE.
While this article is binary - we are always open to accepting everyone in every way for who they are!