fbpx The Importance of Fathers and Their Mental Health
Authored by Nexus Family Healing on June 13, 2024

With Father’s Day right around the corner, here is a chance to celebrate a father's role in their children's lives. Unfortunately, men are often comically portrayed as being the less important parent bumbling their way through parenthood.

Research, however, shows that fathers play a critical role in their children's lives. Strong father involvement in their children’s lives has increased academic performance. Social competence and better peer relationships often result from a father's involvement with their child.

A father helps to enhance the love and support available to a child through their mother. They can also act as a buffer when there is stress in the mother-child relationship.

Even when parents live in separate households, fathers who maintain a positive co-parenting relationship with their child's mother have children with higher self-esteem and emotional self-regulation.

Men's Mental Health

Men, however, are not immune from their own challenges, including high rates of depression, suicide, and chemical abuse as they age. Men are far less likely to seek mental health services than women.

Men often default to the rugged individualism that dominates most men’s lives. This results, however, in greater isolation from others and higher rates of mental health problems. 

We are all meant to be in relationships with others, including men. Because men have such a significant impact on their children’s lives, we want to ensure that men take care of their own mental health as part of this process.

Just as a man would exercise for his physical fitness, men also need to take care of their mental fitness. Harvard University has studied a large group of men for the last 90 years. Part of that study focuses on what helps with happiness and life satisfaction. The overwhelming evidence is that having positive, supportive relationships with others, including a spouse or partner, makes the biggest difference in having high levels of life satisfaction. Much more so than income or even physical health.

Other factors that help mental health include having a positive outlook, working through trauma that may have been part of our past, managing stress, and taking care of ourselves physically.

Help Is Available

What also enhances mental health? Seeking help. Stigma has long kept men in the shadows, refusing to get needed help. 

There are many types of therapists and groups available to help with many of them specializing in men's mental health.

In the many years I've been doing therapy, I don't think I have ever heard one male say they have regretted seeking help for mental health issues when needed. 

That is the message that men need to hear. Help is out there, and there is no shame in seeking it.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something is more important than fear.”

As we strive to be good fathers and positive role models to our children, remember that what we do matters as our children look to us to determine their own sense of self. Remember that taking care of ourselves to bring the better parts of ourselves to those we care about is much more important than any short-term fear or stigma.

I want to thank all the fathers out there this Father’s Day. I wish you the very best in maintaining your own good mental health. May it be multiplied through your children and your effect on them.

This blog article was contributed by Luke Spiegelhoff, Clinical Director Specialist at Nexus Family Healing.

Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for community mental health servicesfoster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 50 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Access more resources at nexusfamilyhealing.org/resources.