The Dad Network has kicked off a new campaign to raise awareness of men’s mental health issues.
The #FatherFigures campaign sees dads posing in nothing but their underwear to highlight the importance of mental wellbeing and body acceptance among fathers.
According to The Dad Network founder Al Ferguson, #FatherFigures ‘encourages dads to celebrate their bodies, whilst breaking down societal stereotypes of what a “normal” body should look like.
‘We want to promote positive body confidence amongst fathers and encourage men to open up about their mental health and provide much-needed support.’
Over the last 25 years, the number of men suffering from serve body dissatisfaction has increased threefold.
One in four men is affected by mental health problems, with one in eight being diagnosed with mental health illness in the UK alone.
Clinical psychologist Dr Emma Hepburn told The Dad Network: ‘Men’s and dads’ mental health is an important area where we need to increase knowledge and awareness, and reduce stigma.
‘Increasing awareness and knowledge of men’s mental health, and ways to seek help and support, can help break down some of the barriers men face when they experience mental health difficulties.’
And it’s not just mums who may suffer with postnatal depression as one in 10 new dads will suffer with it too.
‘The causes of mental health problems, such as postnatal depression, are every bit as relevant for dads as they are for mums,’ Dr Andrew Mayers said.
‘Often, the perception is that postnatal depression is hormonal, so could not possibly affect fathers. But hormones only play a small part. Environmental and social factors, such as social support, poverty, relationships changes, education, and stigma, are a much better predictor. These equally apply to dads. We need to encourage more dads to seek help.’
But what can you do if you’re struggling with your mental health?
1. Remember you’re not alone
Talk to other dads or friends, don’t suffer in silence. Join a safe online community like The Dad Network so you can meet other dads and share your experiences.
2. Talk about your feelings
Don’t feel ashamed of your feelings, it’s a normal part of being human. Find someone you can trust – a close friend, a family member or someone you know will be supportive – and share how you feel. Everyone experiences emotions.
3. Eat well
‘Healthy body, healthy mind’. Evidence suggests that good nutrition is essential for our mental health.
4. Be mindful of how much alcohol you consume
Alcohol is a depressant and can have a negative impact on mental health, especially if you are already battling with mental health issues. Try to lay off booze or at least stay aware of your alcohol consumption.
5. Take time out
Don’t forget to take time out for yourself and your own well-being. Relaxing gives your mind and body time to recover from the stresses of everyday life.
6. Appreciate the body you have
We come in all shapes and sizes and should not have to conform to societal stereotypes. No-one is perfect no matter what the images on social media try to make you believe.
7. Keep active
Physical activity is beneficial to your mental wellbeing as when you exercise, happy chemicals – dopamine – are released into your brain. These are responsible for feelings of pleasure and happiness.
8. Ask for help
It is courageous to recognise and ask for help if you need it.
9. Read more about mental health
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Understanding mental health and what can be done to help you are very important. Read books, look online or speak to you GP for advice and guidance.
Dads can join in and demonstrate their support for the campaign by uploading a photograph of a part of their body with #FatherFigures written on it and posting it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram along with the FatherFigures hashtag.