Fathers, sons and mental health

loneliness and mental health

New research shows that half (49%) of teenage boys (aged 16-18) in the UK would not feel comfortable talking to their fathers about their mental health (including stress, anxiety and depression). When asked why, more than a third said it was because their father doesn’t talk about his feelings and 31% said they wouldn’t want to burden them.

The survey revealed that over half of young men (54%) who are experiencing mental health problems ‘put a brave face on’ or ‘keep it to themselves.’  The poll of 16-18 year old men was published by Time to Change, the campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness to change public attitudes towards mental wellness. The research, which found that a quarter (27%) of teenage boys experience mental health problems at least once a week, aims to uncover the extent to which teenage boys’ attitudes and behaviour towards mental health are influenced by their fathers.

While many teenage boys considered talking about mental health with their fathers to be off limits, Time to Change highlights the positive impact of role modelling behaviour from fathers to sons. 70% of sons felt completely comfortable talking about their mental health when this had been encouraged by their father. The research also showed that virtually all teenage boys who were comfortable opening up to their father about their mental condition (98%) said that they would want to have a similarly open relationship with their sons in the future.

Time to Change is now urging all fathers to talk more openly, so that if and when their sons develop mental health problems in the future, they can be on hand with support. The newly released research also offers a helpful insight into how teenage boys would like their dads to reach out. The majority of young people wanted their fathers to talk to them (57%) with others stating a preference for a less direct approach such as going out somewhere together (26%).

Over the next five years, Time to Change will introduce a targeted campaign to encourage men to think and act differently about mental health problems and be more open and supportive of friends, family and colleagues.

For advice and tips visit: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

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