New research shows that half (49%) of teenage boys would not feel comfortable talking to their dads about their mental health (including stress, anxiety and depression). When asked why, more than a third said it was because their dad doesn’t talk about his feelings and 31% said they wouldn’t want to burden them.
The survey revealed that 37% of young men chose to ‘put a brave face on’ when struggling with mental health problems and 33% would rather keep it to themselves.
The poll of 16-18 year old men is released today by Time to Change, the campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness to change public attitudes towards mental health. The research, which found that a quarter 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 is influenced by their fathers.
While a high number of teenage boys consider talking about mental health with their dads to be off limits, Time to Change is highlighting 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 mental health (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 dads 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.