Don’t know what to give Dad this Father’s Day? You’re thinking maybe a pair of socks or another tie? But does Dad really need either of those things? Think about this for a second, what does Dad really need? Sure, he might actually need a pair of socks or another tie for his collection, but he also might need the gift of mental health just that little bit more.
- 4% of Australian men aged 16 to 85 will experience anxiety in their life
- 1 in 8 Australian men will experience depression in their lives
- Only 27.5% of males with mental illness access any services. 
So, thinking about those stats, do you really think Dad needs those new socks? He might really appreciate those socks, so go on, get him a pair of socks, but also think about maybe checking in on his mental health as well.
You might think that it’s hard to do. After all we’re talking about the man who taught you how to ride a bike, who used to hold you up on his shoulder and held you close when you scraped your knee. He’s the guy you thought was unbreakable. But as we grow older, we realise that we all break a little sometimes. So, maybe it’s time to reach out and check in on Dad. Where do you start, I hear you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. Here’s a couple of tips.
Are socks really a good Father’s Day gift?
Of course they are! Socks are awesome and here’s a great place to get a pair.
How many men in Australia experience depression?
1 in 8
Why did the invisible man turn down the job offer?
He just couldn’t see himself doing it? (sorry, dad joke)
The first step isn’t a big step, but it is an important step. Just be there. Go visit your Dad, pick up the phone and have a chat, just let them know that you’re there for him.
Pick your time
You’re not going to want to have a big deep and meaningful chat over the kitchen table, in front of your mum and aunties and Nan and whoever else might be over for dinner. Choose the best time that’s not only in a safe and private place but when you can carve out the time to have a proper conversation.
Where to start
This can be a tough one. You might have noticed a change in behaviour in your old man and have all these concerns and questions but don’t know which one to say first. There’s a couple of ways you can approach this conversation starter:
- “I’ve noticed you’ve been sad/angry/not yourself lately, do you want to tell me about it?”
- “How have you been going?”
- “I heard/saw you say/do something that made me worried about you, can we talk about it?”
- “I’ve been feeling concerned about you.”
- “I know that this is what I do when I’m feeling down, and I’ve seen you doing it too. Is there something wrong?”
- “Are you okay?”
All of these could be good conversation starters to get you going.
Generally, when you ask a bloke something along the lines of ‘Are you all right?’ you’ll most likely be told that everything good. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the case though. Most guys don’t want to be a bother, so it’s always a good idea just to ask twice. More times than not, if there is something on their mind they’ll open up after the second time you ask.
Have a read between the lines
Sometimes Dads (and males in general) won’t always come straight out and tell you what’s on their mind. They might need a couple of cracks at coming out and saying it. They might ask you how you’re going and hope that you ask them back to get the conversation started. So, keep your ears open just in case Dad is sounding like he wants to have a chat.
Go do stuff
If your old man is one of those old men that isn’t exactly the talking about his feelings type, then it’s going to be easier for him to open up if the opening up happens while another activity is taking place. Go for a drive, play golf or help him do… whatever hobby it is that he likes to do. Men find it easier to talk when ‘the talk’ isn’t the main activity.
During times of stress
There’s going to be times in your Dad’s life where he’s going to need to deal with stressful situations. He may have lost a friend, been made redundant or living with an illness. A common thought is that when people are living through stressful times, it’s best to leave them alone. But being in a positive relationship means that you’re there for the hard times as well as the good. So, reach out and just let them know you’re there. The most important thing at the end of the day is letting Dad know that no matter what, he’s supported.
Now, there may be a time when your dad needs more help that you can provide. If that’s the situation he’s in, then support him to seek help from a GP, a health professional or encourage him to call us and have a chat with one or our counsellors. MensLine provides a free, 24-hour counselling service that doesn’t require your dad to need a referral.
So, this Father’s Day instead of giving him another pair of socks, take the time to check in on his mental health.
P.S. Get some socks as well. Everyone needs socks!
MensLine Australia is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.