June is the month we honor the fathers in our lives. From teaching us as children, to raising us and mentoring us as adults, fathers play a pivotal role in our development. This month, take time to check in with the dads in your life and their mental health.
Although depression is an illness that affects both men and women, men are often less likely to ask for help. Just like any disease, depression is best treated as early as possible. This Father’s Day, help the men close to you learn more about depressive disorders and how to get effective help. KLF Counseling & Consulting, PA, Kathy L. Fortner, EdS, LPC, NCC, AND Wilcox Psychiatric Solutions, Michael D. Wilcox, MD, PhD is offering free, anonymous mental health screenings at http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/screening/klfcounseling. Anyone can log on to the website and complete a brief questionnaire. The screening will offer customized feedback as well as the opportunity to schedule an appointment with a mental health professional if necessary.
Sometimes people need extra encouragement to reach out for help. Here are some symptoms you should watch for in your loved ones:
Symptoms of Depression
• Feeling sad or unhappy
• High levels of anxiety
• Low energy
• Lapses in personal hygiene, such as not bathing or shaving as regularly
• Feeling worthless or hopeless
• Losing interest in activities or people
Fathers, as single parents due to divorce or being a widower, or fathers in intact familes, face stress without usually asking for any type of assistance. Men, particularly, will not seek help for fears of being thought of as being a failure or weak due to having to obtain guidance with their concerns and stressors. This is quite the contrary to current beliefs, as when I work with fathers in counseling, I explain they are very courageous and strong to realize their need to seek assistance. These men are aware of limitations with regard to skills that may not have been taught with regard to expressing their thoughts, feelings, or wants therefore, they often experience frustration, depression, and anger. From various websites, great information can be gained on how men, particuarly fathers, can deal with their stress, http://fatherhood.about.com/od/succeedingasafather/a/stress.htm. Some insights are as follows:
- Set aside some family downtime. If you are a single Dad or in a marriage, plan time for just your children and you, special time that doesn’t have to be expensive, maybe a picnic at a park or beach, renting a movie with pizza night, swimming time, bike ride, or games with your children and you.
- Plan time for just yourself. Everyone needs time to be alone, to think, to just reflect, and enjoy some “quiet alone time”. This is not only mentally healthy but also promotes medical wellness.
- Talk and communicate more. Husbands and wives need about 30 minutes each night, alone, to just talk, that’s all, just 30 minutes per day. Each child needs from their parent 15 minutes each day, alone, to just communicate about their day, talk about the good and not so good things in their lives. All of us are busy, yet making time, prevention talk time, is very productive in learning about how a father’s family is doing each day.
- Good regular exerecise and healthy eating is essential for stress management. Plan time to exercise each day, if only 30 minutes, and try to set an example for your children or family by taking care of you with healthy meals each day. Fathers will be amazed how much different they will feel and how stress can be reduced simply.
- Sharpen your saw. Steven Covey relays a story about a man who used a dull saw which wasn’t productive. All areas of a father’s life need to be sharpened, whether it is physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. How do you, as a father, sharpen your skills in life each day?
- Learn to say “no”. Limits on your time with healthy boundaries of commitment can be critical to both your personal and family “wellness”. Too many obligations, too many demands, too many commitments can truly create stress. You can control you life and what you do each day. We have 168 hours in one week, so, how do you plan to use your given time. Something all of us have in life, equally.
- Laugh, laugh, ….. Humor makes our day more pleasurable, whether it is seeing a funny movie, telling jokes, or just finding the funny things that happen in our life, fathers need to find the funny side of life on a regular basis. Try it! It is hard to be stressed when laughing.
- Ask for help. Seek you medical professional, a mental health professional, clergy, or other professional should you need guidance with the stress or stressors in your life.
May the the fathers, through reading the contents of this posting, be able to recognize if they are overwhelmed, sad, stressed, or experiencing other negative feelings, they can have some control over their lives, and if necessary seek help from those they trust. May all of the fathers have a wonderful Father’s Day and hopefully be able to spend time with their children, grandchildren, or those special young people in their lives on this special day in June, 2011.