Mental Health Care for Dads

May 9, 2016

The stigma and misperceptions surrounding depression can sometimes impact men more than women. Because of male stereotypes, the idea that depression is a weakness, or that depression only makes us feel sad can lead some to believe that men do not experience depression. These incorrect assumptions can delay necessary depression treatment and negatively affect those who depend on these men the most.

When a dad’s mental illness is untreated, the whole family can suffer. If a man is concerned that he may be struggling with depression, it is important for him to talk about it with his partner and doctor. Acknowledging that there is a problem is a crucial first step.

With the proper help and support, dads can enjoy parenting more while learning to cope with their feelings of anxiety and depression. As their health improves, so will the health of the family. Dads who are more in tune with their own feelings can help their children be as well.

Research shows that when fathers are able to handle their emotions, children have improved social skills and emotional intelligence. A healthy relationship between the father and child is important too. A study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine concluded that children who have active fathers learn better, have higher self esteem, and are less prone to depression than those who don’t.

There are many programs in Massachusetts designed to help men succeed in their role as fathers:

  • A good starting place is to contact one of the Children’s Trust Family Centers which are located across the state
  • A handbook — The Fatherhood Kit — is available online as a free download. For more information about CTF’s programs, contact Haji Shearer, Director of the Fatherhood Initiative, at haji.shearer@state.ma.us or 617-727-8957.
  • Fatherhood Project For more information about The Fatherhood Project, please email connect@thefatherhoodproject.org or call 617-724-2044.
  • Nurturing Fathers Programs For more information about the Nurturing Fathers Program, contact program director John O’Neil at joneil@familynurturing.org or 617-474-1143 x251.