In this installment, we’re celebrating Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month and this week, specifically, Fatherhood and the impact of mental health on the family system. But first, let’s talk a little about Father’s Day. It was recognized as a national holiday in 1972, first celebrated in 1910, and holds a rich historical significance. Although Fatherhood in 2024 looks different from nearly a century ago, the role is no less impactful and worthy of celebration for individuals or their families. 

In our last article, Ruban Roberts, Founder and CEO of Amplify Community Resources, discussed the importance of addressing social and cultural stigmas. With Father’s Day approaching, we’d like to discuss the importance of Fathers and Father figures to “check in” on their mental health despite the stigmas they may harbor. Mr. Roberts states, We must address cultural misconceptions around vulnerability, especially as they relate to fatherhood.”  


Boys Don’t Cry 

From a young age, boys are often taught to embody the “strength archetype” and are expected to display stoicism and toughness. They are discouraged from showing vulnerability and hearing “boys don’t cry” as a constant reminder to keep their emotions in check.  As a result, they often develop ways to cope with their emotions, such as keeping quiet, staying active, or using substances like drugs or alcohol. Engaging in distractions like watching TV or playing video games is another common coping mechanism.  

Over time, these boys become men, and many struggle to acknowledge their vulnerability or sensitivity, fearing that it will make them appear weak in the eyes of their loved ones and peers. Unfortunately, this perpetuates cultural and social stigmas and is passed down to their children. “Breaking free from the ‘strength archetype’ is essential if we are to address the underlying issues affecting men’s mental health,” says Ruban. 


Getting Comfortable with Emotion 

The persistent cultural and social stigmas make it challenging for men to acknowledge the need for help, especially those who are relied upon by coworkers, employees, and family members. Traditionally, men have been expected to power through difficulties, compartmentalize their feelings, and maintain a facade of toughness. However, the archetype of the stoic father who never shares his worries is evolving. 

Suppressing emotions can exacerbate stress and anxiety, potentially leading to serious health issues like sleep and eating disorders, weight gain, heart problems, and severe depression. It’s crucial to encourage men to prioritize their mental well-being just as they would their physical health. “Creating environments where men can express vulnerability without judgment is one of our primary goals,” Ruban notes. Amplify Community Resources has developed programs to raise awareness and shift these norms, empowering men to discuss their mental health challenges openly. 


Addressing the Long-term Effects of Suppressed Emotions 

Chronic emotional suppression can have severe long-term effects. Numerous studies have linked repressed emotions to a range of health issues, including aggressive behaviors. As societal acceptance of discussing mental health grows, men are increasingly encouraged to express rather than suppress their feelings, fostering healthier paternal bonds and family dynamics. “Recognizing the health risks associated with suppressed emotions emphasizes the critical need for accessible mental health resources,” Ruban explains, “it is important to acknowledge when you need help and feel supported when you seek assistance.” Reducing the stigma around mental health challenges is a fundamental piece of this puzzle. 

Three Ways Men Can Help Reduce Stigma 

Whether the condition is situational or chronic, there are actionable steps men can take to combat mental health stigma: 


  1. Finding Supportive Environments: Engage in communities and groups that foster open discussions about mental health. Creating spaces where emotions can be freely expressed helps normalize these conversations. 


  1. Understanding That Words Matter: The language we use when discussing mental health can support or hinder progress. Men can help change the narrative around mental health issues by choosing words that reflect understanding and respect. 


  1. Get Informed About Mental Health: Educating oneself and others about mental health can dismantle myths and reduce stigma. Accessible resources such as Mental Health America and the National Institute of Mental Health provide valuable information that can empower individuals and their communities. 


Creating a New Norm 

Let’s challenge outdated fatherhood and mental health paradigms starting this Father’s Day and embrace a new narrative of strength where emotional openness is acceptable and essential for personal and family wellness. “We can redefine strength for fathers as a balance between resilience and receptivity to emotional experiences, paving the way for healthier family dynamics,” suggests Ruban Roberts. 

Our work at Amplify Community Resources is centered on emphasizing the power of holistic mental wellness, providing a path to healing and strengthening family units and the broader community. Their advocacy demonstrates that improving fathers’ mental health contributes significantly to their children’s and partners’ emotional and psychological well-being, producing a ripple effect that enhances community ties and promotes societal health. 

This shift does more than help men manage personal challenges; it builds a culture where future generations can grow in a more supportive and understanding environment. Embracing this evolved view of fatherhood and mental health can transform perceived vulnerabilities into community strengths, fundamentally reshaping societal interactions with mental wellness. 


Fathers Championing Mental Wellness 

As we continue focusing on Men’s Mental Health Month, we encourage all fathers to champion mental wellness by advocating for open dialogue about mental health. This initiative not only enhances their own well-being but also sets a powerful example for future generations. Join us as we delve deeper into the journeys of men across various backgrounds who break down barriers and foster a mental wellness culture in their families and communities. 


IMPORTANT NOTES: If you need assistance or have questions related to mental health, substance use, or other community services, contact the 211 system for health and social service assistance information and referrals. The 988 Lifeline crisis counselors provide support for people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress. Your personal information will remain confidential. If you or a loved one is in immediate danger, call 911; however, it is important to notify the operator if it is a psychiatric emergency and ask for the assistance of someone trained in crisis intervention or trained to assist people experiencing a psychiatric emergency. 

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