It’s the first day of SPRING (Yeah!!!) and it’s Father’s Day. Given how important my partner, Anthony, has been in setting A PATH for our boys, how could I post about anything else, than the important role fathers can play? (There is no gender bias intended in this piece. My use of personal pronouns is not inferring that only Fathers can play this important role). I am choosing to write a blog on DADS inspired by what an amazing role Anthony plays in raising our three wonderful boys!! I know lots of other dads playing similar roles, so I am sure you do too! Without Anthony in my life I would not be the person I am today; I wouldn’t be striving forward trying to better the mental health of others, I would still be paddling like mad trying to nuture mine. There have been many times when I have been amazed at how steadfast Anthony’s belief in me has been and there have been many times I have worried about the strain of such a journey could have on him. Living with someone severely affected by mental illness is not easy, especially with raising small children. Like Anthony, despite the pressures of life, many men continue on, and on, without receiving the support they so often give. Tonight is about recognising the importnace of mental health in men. Let’s face it, with four of them in my life, it’s in my best interests to nuture that…
Mental Health of Australian men is an area that amongst our community needs highlighting, accepting and nurturing. I want my boys to be able to say, in the future, “I am struggling. I need the support of my family, friends, workplace. I might also need some professional support”. Currently, this kind of role modelling is not strong in our male community, but with initiatives like the ones listed below and people like you choosing to join The Path’s Journey, we can begin to change this picture.
Men (young and not so) are particularly vulnerable to Mental Illness and Suicide, with this risk complicated by several factors: stigma and stereotyping continue to lead this race by a long, long way. Men are still much more likely to NOT seek professional support for their wellbeing and we know the reported rate of mental illness amongst our men, still FAR underrepresents what is actually occurring in our society.
Younger males are much more susceptible to mental health issues and/or substance misuse and abuse, with those between 15 and 24 entering hospitals at higher rates than females the same age. “High suicide rates in early to mid adulthood are related to untreated mental health problems in the late teenage and early adult years” and men continue to account for nearly 80% of death by suicide (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010)” http://about-headspace/what-we-do/why-headspace
So while that all sounds very bleak (and YES it is), we have to start somewhere. A Path To Follow is my start and I hope it is part of yours too.
Few men, sons, dads, granddads, men in your life are going to access A Path To Follow, or the resources I provide if they are unable to first hold a conversation at home, at work, at the pub, at the gym about how they are feeling; about mental health and wellbeing! So, to keep it simple, let’s start there. Ask the question AND LISTEN for the answer! Let’s get those men, our boys (and our girls) talking about mental wellbeing, the importance of it and why we need to nurture it. Asking R U OK? is a great way to open the communication pathways. R U OK? Day is coming up on Thursday 12th of September. Celebrating such a day is a great trigger to just hold a conversation about mental wellbeing. The actual question mark paraphernalia is a great conversation starter for the kids too. If you start the conversation they will participate. https://www.ruokday.com/
Resources (and references)
Suicide affecting real Communities (news story) and Suicide Prevention Website
SANE- Aussie Not-for-Profit Organisation fighting mental health stigma (and provides phone counselling)
Mensline-Advice and Services for men around all areas of wellbeing, relationships and health
Beyond Blue Support Service for Men
Services for Youth Mental Health
My Closing Note is to share some important news with you! Yesterday I received an email from Australian of The Year (2010), Chief Executive of Orygen Youth Health and Professor of Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne Patrick McGorry. He said he was more than happy to support A Path To Follow. So, watch this space. Now I need to write a formal proposal for him…