Fathers can play a vital role in identifying early signs of mental illness and helping their sons get the support they need, but many men are unsure about how to start the conversation or what services are available. It is estimated that 87 per cent of young men with mental health issues do not seek help, the stigma around men talking about their struggles with mental illness remains a problem and the headspace Fathers campaign aims to raise awareness about the support services available.

The headspace website provides fathers with tips about how to approach important conversations with their son and how to be proactive in supporting their son's mental health. In the past, generations of men were reluctant to discuss mental health issues. Studies have shown that even now, only 13 per cent of young men with mental health problems seek out professional help.

A person's mental health, like physical health can be affected by a number of overlapping environmental and personal circumstances  which increase the chance of a young person suffering from mental health difficulties. Warning signs that a young person may be experiencing mental health difficulties include :

  • Changes to sleep patterns and appetite
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry for no reason
  • Resisting involvement in activities they normally enjoy
  • Finding out the school, university or work performance is not as good as it once was
  • Becoming involved in risk taking behaviours such as drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs
  • Having trouble with motivation or concentration
  • Seeming unusually stressed or feeling down or crying for no apparent reason
  • Expressing negative, distressing, bizarre or unusual thoughts

Raising sensitive issues with young people can be challenging and the young person can be worried that their parents may be angry, anxious, overwhelmed, shocked or blaming. Young people may also deny that there is anything wrong and refuse help. It is OK to raise concern again and again, letting the young person know you'll do this can be reassuring. It is also possible to suggest other people the young person could talk to, for example a trusted adult or a GP or eheadspace.

headspace provides face-to-face support at its centres across Australia for young people aged 12 to 25 years. Each Centre has mental health, physical health, work and study support, and  alcohol and drug services.   Online and telephone information and support for young people and their family and friends. or 1800 650 890

<- Back to: News