Dads "last people we talk to about mental health"

Only 1% talk to dad first about mental health issues

By Ian Birch

Dads are the last people we would talk to first if we are experiencing a mental health difficulty, according to a survey.

Young women hugging fatherThe survey by leading mental health charity Time to Change shows only 1 in 100 people would talk to their dad first about a mental health problem.

People would prefer to speak to a partner (37%) or their GP (26%) before going to a close family member such as father, mother (8%) or sibling (4%).

Jenny Tudor from Time to Change says: “The research clearly demonstrates that there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health and that starting a conversation with a family member can often be the most difficult thing to overcome.”

Time to Change is fighting to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health problems.  The latest campaign ‘It’s time to talk, it’s time to change,’ aims to encourage the nation to open up and not feel ashamed about their experiences.  The campaign launched earlier this year with treasured sports personality Frank Bruno fronting the initiative and a whole host of other famous faces including Davina McCall, Alastair Campbell and Claudia Winkleman backing the programme.

Time to Change Director Sue Baker said:  “This survey suggests that people are beginning to open up about mental health and are speaking to a partner or GP rather than not discussing it at all.  However, what it does highlight is that people with mental health problems are still often reluctant to have a conversation with the people closest to them, such as siblings or parents."

"‘It’s time to talk, it’s time to change’ is all about breaking down those barriers and empowering families to speak out about mental illness.  Our aim is to encourage more open discussions so that people’s attitudes change towards mental health.”

Former Eastenders cabbie Derek Martin has spoken candidly of his experience as a dad supporting his son David through mental illness.  He said:

“What I’ve learnt is how important it is to be open and let someone know you’re there to listen.  It’s often hard to approach a family member as you don’t want them to worry or feel like you can’t cope.  It’s important for dads out there to fight the taboo of mental health and a few small words asking those close to our hearts how they are, can make a huge difference.”

Time to Change have supplied us with a few tips to start that important conversation:

  • Take the lead: If you know someone has been unwell, don’t be afraid to ask how they are.
  • Avoid clichés: Phrases like ‘Cheer up’, ‘I’m sure it’ll pass,’ and ‘Pull yourself together’ definitely won’t help the conversation! Try to be open minded and non-judgemental.
  • Ask how you can help: People will want support at different times in different ways, so ask how you can help.
  • Don’t avoid the issue: If someone comes to you to talk, don’t brush it off because this can be a hard step to take. Acknowledge their illness and let them know that you’re there for them.
  • Choose a good time: Choose a time and place where you feel comfortable and ready to talk.

External Links

For more information about Time to Change, for which I have blogged, visit or visit them on Facebook at .

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