Over the past few years, I've seen an exponential growth in how much we talk about men's mental health - and this is a good thing.
That being said, men are still much more likely to die by suicide and we still see so many social consequences when men's mental health issues is dealt with poorly.
Whenever I have an opportunity to talk about my own journey to improve my mental health, inevitably I get this question, "My husband is having a really bad time, but I don't know because he refuses to open up about it to me. What should I do?"
So I think about this A LOT, and I have some ideas, but before I do, some caveats:
Everyone should be responsible for their own mental health. It should not be a wife's additional burden to take the lead in her husband's journey. That being said, what I say below are what men need to hear from the people that support them.
I'm using "husband" and "wife" as a shorthand for long-term relationships. This is where there should be a level of trust between the two of you, and where their mental health has a effect on you. You can replace those terms with whatever works for you (eg. partner, baby-daddy, my person).
You may be wondering why I'm focusing on what the wives can do, as opposed to directing this to the men themselves. That's a fair question, but the reality is that the VAST majority of my audience are women, specifically moms, and I have made mental health content directed to men previously.
This isn't a passive-aggressive post directed towards MY wife. In fact, just the opposite. I know the statements work because these are things she has said to me and have been incredibly helpful as I've worked on my mental health.
Okay, with that out the way, here are some things that I think men, and specifically dads, need to hear from their partners:
You aren't letting us down. I know you're trying your best.
Struggling does not equal failure.
You are allowed to feel good most of the time.
You are allowed to not feel good some of the time. You're not a machine.
Your body and your mind are valuable - they are both worth investing in, because we want you around for as long as possible.
I understand that there are things you feel like you can't talk about with me - let's figure out who that person can be.
It's okay to need help. It's not okay not to get it when you need it.
We can find a way to get you the help you need together.
I'm on your side.
I'm 100% in your corner.
I love you. Just as you are.
How do you makes space for mental wellness in your family? Does that include dad?