Ahead of Father’s Day, headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation has released new research highlighting the important role Australian dads play in supporting their young people to navigate mental health difficulties.
When asked to rank on a scale who they were most likely to go to for support with personal or emotional problems, on average, young people said they would seek help from their father before going to a mental health professional.
Vikki Ryall, Executive Director Clinical Practice at headspace said this highlights the vital role fathers play in helping their children navigate tough times.
“Dads are scoring ahead of a mental health professional when it comes to seeking support and this presents a great opportunity for fathers to make the most of existing connections and learn ways to support their young person in managing their mental health.
“There’s still work to be done to improve the mental health literacy of generations who didn’t necessarily grow up with the tools and resources that are available now.
“In providing fathers with the right tools and information, they can support their young people going through tough times, and we can support them in being able to identify the early signs of mental ill-health to ensure their young people get the support they need.
“This Father’s Day, we’re encouraging dads to check in with their young people and learn about how they might be able to support – particularly if they suspect their child might be going through any mental health difficulties” Ryall said.
Stuart Alford, recently worked with headspace Knox to learn some ways to better support his son who was going through a really hard time at school.
“My son had been having some troubles at school and it was really impacting his mental health so he sought help at headspace Knox.
“By having headspace bring us into the conversation around what our son was going through, they could learn about us as a family and as parents, and ultimately help us better understand what our son was going through.
“It made the world of difference in helping us to understand what was really going on, and allowed us to fine tune our own parenting style to ensure we were helping him as much as we could.
“Father’s Day is a wonderful time to celebrate the relationship between a father and their children but also a time to reflect on what we – as dads – can be doing to support our kids.
“Being a parent isn’t easy but I think we sometimes forget how tough it can be being a teenager. I’ve taken so much away from the experience and I would encourage others to have a think about the ways they can be there for their kids whether or not they’re going through a particularly bad time.” Alford said.
Ahead of Father’s Day, headspace has provided tips on how to start a conversation about mental health, advice on how to respond and support a young person on going through a tough time and some of the warning signs for parents to be aware of.