By Adam Lansdell
Tackling Mental Health and Finding Purpose Through Fatherhood
Recognizing our faults can ignite purpose in each of us. And for many men, that motivator can be fatherhood. Fatherhood is unique in not only does it require men to be their best, to ensure they’re creating an environment for their young ones to become their best – however, sometimes a lack of trying can be contributed to simply not being there physically. But, what if you’re not there mentally?
Historically, men have shied away from talking about, let alone showing, their true emotions. However, times have changed and in today’s world expressing your emotions isn’t an action frowned upon – instead, it’s often the first stepping stone for recognizing one’s battle with an underlying mental health issue or another aspect of life that’s preventing you from being your best.
No one understands the relationship between fatherhood and mental health quite like Brian Pruitt, motivational speaker and founder of The Power of Dad, an organization created to encourage, educate and enhance the relationship between fathers and their children.
“The role of a father plays a great part in the mental health of today’s teens,” said Pruitt. “The stress, confusion and heartbreak of growing up without a father has, in my opinion, played a major role in the growth of mental health issues in our society.”
Pruitt’s personal story demonstrates how a lack of caring for mental health issues can create a fatherless childhood-like scenario for many or destroyed dreams for others.
“My personal life has been majorly impacted by this topic. My father suffered from major mental health issues having been diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia,” shared Pruitt. “The impact was very harmful to my family. It seems as if an invisible imposter stole my father’s mind, heart, logic, which then dismantled his family. An unmanaged mental health issue destroyed his dreams.”
According to Pruitt, children with actively involved fathers do better in all aspects of life. He likens this link to soldiers, who push through hardships but are left to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder quietly.. Every father has an opportunity to lessen the potential for more children to develop a mental health struggle of their own as a result of parenthood absence, simply by being there and trying. For many, making that realization is what made the difference.
“Over the past 20 years, I’ve traveled the country and others, speaking to the hearts of men. Some with mental health issues and some with, just issues,” said Pruitt. “After speaking with men, I don’t know of a greater motivation to bring change in a man’s heart than his family. Every man needs something to fight for or somebody to believe in him. When it comes to mental health issues, family is just that. It gives something to fight for when it comes to any possible mental health battles and the support he needs to win.
But there is always the opportunity to make a conscious effort toward improving and preserving your mental health. If you have a desire to succeed, Pruitt suggests taking on these four essentials for improving one’s mental health and motivation:
- Know your family’s pathology: It’s key that you recognize any mental health issues within your family. Mental health issues do not always, but can certainly be, passed on genetically.
- Be honest with your doctor: During your next physical checkup, be up-front about not only what’s happening with you physically, but mentally. Treat this as your yearly mental check-up. In addition, question the medications and you’re taking and be diligent about understanding their potential side effects.
- Take action: When you discover that you need help, don’t be your own worst enemy by ignoring it. Quickly admit that you need support at this time in your life. Let a close family member know your situation for accountability and seek professional support as well.
- Find balance: Take proper steps to add exercise, as well as proper time for rest and recreation in your daily routine.
- As a father, your health is as important as your children’s – they need you. Don’t let the stigma that’s plagued the mental health of men force you into believing that change is impossible. And remember: You are not alone.
“I am seeing more men who are courageously acknowledging their battle and seeking help. At one time, this was seen as weakness,” expressed Pruitt. “I’m glad that we as a society are moving past this harmful thought and realizing that courageous and brave men point out their struggles, find help and stay connected to their families.”
To learn more about Brian Pruitt and The Power of Dad, visit pruittmotivational.com or powerofdad.org.