Just because Michael Harman (pictured) is a highly experienced mental health professional, doesn’t mean that he isn’t vulnerable to the psychological pressures of fatherhood.

The NAPHL Health Hub Mental Health Social Worker and Psychosocial Therapist knows all too well the mental health pressures that dads can experience.

“Fatherhood is an ongoing thing even after your children grow up,” Michael says.

“It appears that a father is only going to be as happy as their saddest child.”

As a father himself, the mental health clinician says fatherhood has taken a toll on his own mental health at times.

“Poor work/life balance, comparing myself to others and lack of sleep while raising a child who has a disability have been some of the hardest parts of fatherhood for me.”

While fathers are stereotypically seen as the strong and invincible members of the family, Michael says they are just as likely to experience mental health issues as anyone else.

“Kids are a joy to watch grow. Helping my kids achieve a goal and going for a walk or run with my kids have been some of the best days of my life.

“But there are many parts of fatherhood that can impact on the mental health of dads.”

Michael says some of the common pressures on a dad’s mental health include:

  • Any physical issues
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Poor diet
  • Alcohol intake
  • Medications
  • Unrealistic expectations placed on self in work and home life
  • Comparing self to others
  • Ruminations of not being good enough
  • Family and extended family relationships and expectations
  • Limited contact with friendship groups
  • Self esteem, negative thoughts about past regrets
  • Poor work/life balance

Michael says some of the warning signs that a father isn’t doing so well include poor sleep, reporting to be tired all the time, increased alcohol intake, increased anger, appearing to be in their own world, self-isolating or not wanting to engage in usually pleasurable activities.

Michael says fathers should seek help if any of the above are experienced.

“Also listen to family and friends’ advice,” he said.  

Michael’s top tips for fathers wanting to look after their mental health is to eat a nutritious diet, incorporate exercise and make time for fun during their daily routine.

He stressed that fathers do not have to be 'strong' all the time and it is okay to be vulnerable and to talk to someone when you are not feeling okay. 

If you are or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues, our university-qualified health professionals may be able to help. Call 4722 8750 or email [email protected] to discuss.

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