International Fathers’ Mental Health Day

Dads, First Chance is here for you.

To raise awareness for International Fathers’ Mental Health Day, First Chance for Children has created a mini-kit just for dads! You’ll find tips, articles, resources, and gifts just for dads including a small notebook, pen, hand lotion, and cool dad stickers. To learn how to get a Dads kit, click HERE. (link to blog post about Summer Fun at First Chance) 

Dads, your mental health matters. Being a dad is hard. First Chance is here to help. Our goal is to give dads practical help and support as a person and a parent. 

It’s time to talk about the health and wellbeing of dads. 10% of all new dads experience symptoms of clinical depression after the birth of a baby. Dads may experience symptoms like anxiety, depression, mood swings, or trouble controlling anger. These symptoms affect how you talk, play, and interact with your little ones and how much patience you have with them. Your wellbeing affects everyone in your family. When you take care of yourself, your partner will feel better, your baby will feel better, and YOU will feel better. First Chance can provide postpartum depression screening, family support services, and referrals to local mental health resources.

There’s a lot to unlearn about what it means to be a dad. There are so many harmful, yet widely-accepted stereotypes.

Stereotypes about Dads = corny jokes, rough and tough, breadwinner, uninvolved, the fun parent, stoic, unemotional, protector, lazy, disciplinarian, hot temper, clueless, hero

All these stereotypes of who dads should be (or not be), and all the expected roles dads are supposed to take on is like extra baggage – heavy and tiresome. Even the positive stereotypes are heavy weights to carry. Like when dads are idolized for doing the basic parts of being a loving, responsive caregiver. These dads are treated as “exceptions,” when the truth is that dads all over the world are fulfilling those same caregiver responsibilities every single day. 

Here are some critical things to unlearn and  suggestions on how to replace the labels. 

Dads are not failures, nor are they perfect. Dads are humans. 

Dads are not stereotypes. Dads are diverse.

Dads are not one-dimensional. Dads are dynamic.

Dads are not immune to parental stress and anxiety. Dads need support and resources for their health and well-being.

Dads need the opportunity to define their own roles and expectations based on their unique life experiences, personality traits, goals, beliefs, strengths, flaws, and the ever-changing needs of their children and families.

At First Chance, we celebrate and appreciate dads for the relationships they build with their children and the power of their influence in small and big ways on their families. The National Institute for Children’s Health Quality reports, “Helping dads be at their best – physically and mentally – during early childhood has a big impact on children’s health. Studies show that father involvement leads to children who are more ready for school, have a better vocabulary, have better social skills, and are better able to regulate their emotions. Father Involvement helps moms, too. It increases both parents’ confidence. It helps both parents be more responsive to their babies. It decreases mothers’ and fathers’ potential for mental health issues.” 

(Source: https://www.nichq.org/resource/supporting-fathers-mental-health-infographic)

First Chance is here to give dads the support they need to take care of their mental health, reduce their stress, rise above their challenges, and to be the best dads they can be. To learn more about how First Chance can support you and your family, visit the programs page on our website and fill out our brief online enrollment form.

Finally, we want to share 3 excellent online resources to support Dads’ mental health: 

Postpartum Stress Center – Learn how to recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression in dads

Postpartum Support International – Online support group for dads, connect with a Special Coordinator for Dads, and links to helpful articles Boone County Pregnancy and Postpartum Support – List of local mental health resources and support