Why the mental health of today’s dads is a hidden but rapidly growing problem, Health News, ET HealthWorld

by Dr Venkatesh Babu

Bangalore: Mental health has rightly been one of the significant areas of advancement in the workplace in recent years. Are we forgetting an important, but still relatively unknown group?

When it comes to modern fatherhood, there has been a generational shift, with more and more modern fathers actively participating in day-to-day parenting. A survey found that 87% of them were mostly or totally active in daily parenting tasks, showing a significant change from previous generations of parents.

The complicated gender dynamics of our society, particularly stereotypes, lead individuals to consider seeking treatment to improve their mental health, which contradicts the notion of being strong and becoming inappropriate for the work of a provider. With changing societal conventions and the reversal of conventional family roles, the expectations of men and women regarding marriage are rapidly changing.
However, the world of work has been much slower to adapt to the pace of change in our family homes.

Mental health consequences for working fathers:

A wide range of conflict among modern dads seeking to balance new motivations in their personal and professional lives has been uncovered, with 45% of dads saying they feel pressure from their employer, while the same number say they frequently face conflict. from colleagues. while trying to balance family responsibilities and employment.

There is a significant impact on the mental health of parents due to enormous pressures. Only 37% said balancing work and family obligations had a negative influence on their mental health, while only 23% said it had a fair or very good impact on their mental health.

Fatherhood is a biological and emotional paradigm shift

For both men and women, being a parent is a major growth milestone that brings about biochemical, psychological, and interpersonal changes not seen since puberty. And, while many new parents are educated by health experts on what these changes look like for a new mother, only a few people are aware of the transformation of a new father, especially when it comes to the changes. biological and hormonal which can have a significant influence. on attitude and conduct.

Starting a few months before giving birth, testosterone levels decline as prolactin, vasopressin and other hormones increase, rewiring a man’s brain to prepare him for parenthood. Entire sections of a man’s brain grow and develop in response to hormonal changes during a child’s first year, including heightened sensitivity, better emotional bonding potential, and greater responsiveness to the needs of others. .

Parenthood and psychological influence

As fatherhood approaches, men encounter some of the toughest developmental hurdles they have ever faced. The transition to fatherhood involves a series of extremely difficult psychological challenges. A man must work out personal issues with his father, deal with emotional uncertainty, learn to rely on others and let others rely on him, and build community with other fathers, all of which cannot be achieved without some help and understanding. .

The urge to debate, negotiate, and resolve parental conflicts suddenly takes center stage in a relationship. Simultaneously, sex and relationship fulfillment are a low priority, with many men leaning on their wives for emotional support and intimacy, feeling guilty, resentful and confused as they struggle to figure out how to support their partner while supporting themselves and their desire for connection. .

Coping with paternal mental illness, a hidden pandemic

How can we begin to improve this situation? At a time when male suicide is at an all-time high, the issue of working fathers and mental health must be highlighted.

Being a father is one of life’s most rewarding experiences. However, this comes with significant obligations and sacrifices. Many men can thrive amid the challenges of new fatherhood with help and compassion. Unfortunately, most men don’t understand. A wealth of data on the burgeoning topic of paternal mental health sends a message: Fathers struggle and suffer from mental health issues at about the same rate as mothers.

According to a survey carried out in India by a private life insurance company on Indian fathers, many men are more concerned about the future of their child than their own health.

While most dads are concerned about their health, only 20% are taking aggressive steps to be healthy. 93% work 6-7 days a week and 85% think their demanding jobs prevent them from achieving a good work-life balance. Beyond physical activity, diet and getting enough sleep are desired health measures, although 46% believe lack of time is the biggest barrier to achieving their health goals and of physical form.

In conclusion

While many companies seem to recognize the importance of discussing mental health in the workplace, more needs to be done to elevate the dialogue for fathers today than is currently being done.
As we talk about increased flexibility and other future-oriented policies, it is more immediate that all organizational leaders, HR and line managers converge on how they deal with the mental health of a whole of individuals where the need may be more hidden from everyday life.

by Dr. Venkatesh Babu, Consultant Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospitals Bangalore

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