(Montreal) One in seven Quebec fathers of children ages 0 to 18 experience many mental health problems, but even those most in need still often refuse to seek professional help, according to a survey released Monday by de Regroupement pour appreciation of fatherhood.
Posted at 10:30am
“In the entire population of Quebec fathers, that’s about 130,000 fathers,” said Professor Carl Lacharité of the psychology department at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, who helped develop the study. It’s busy at mass, as they say. †
Made public as part of the tenth Quebec Paternity Week and a few days before Father’s Day, the SOM survey indicates that the situation is even worse among fathers who earn less than $35,000 a year or are out of work, as nearly a third of them claims to feel high psychological distress.
A quarter of fathers who broke up in the past five years are in the same situation.
Twenty-nine percent of fathers with a high psychological distress index admitted to having suicidal thoughts in the past year, a figure four times higher than the 7% average.
Also, English speakers (19%), allophones (17%), singles (19%) and fathers who were abused during their childhood (17%) are somewhat overrepresented in terms of many mental health problems.
The pollsters asked the participants if they felt “nervous”, “so tired that everything was an effort”, “desperate”, “restless or unable to bear it”, “so depressed that nothing (them) could do more about it.” smiling” or “good for nothing” in the past month. The percentage of fathers who answered “Always/Mostly/Sometimes” ranged from 25% for “worth nothing” to 54% for “nervous”.
Despite all this, 83% of survey participants indicated that they had not consulted a psychosocial resource or worker in the past year. We note, however, that a third of fathers with many mental health problems sought professional help – which also means that two-thirds did not.
These findings, Professor Lacharité said, are a “call for empathy for what fathers can go through.”
“In a survey like this, they tell us what they’re feeling, what they’re going through,” he explained. They don’t necessarily tell us what they express to the people around them and so we are somewhat in the stereotype (of the invulnerable father), on the other hand there are fathers who collapse, who commit irreparable acts. But there are many things between the two, and this survey shows us a little bit of these things. †
feeling of loneliness
Several fathers testified to a certain sense of loneliness in the exercise of their parental role.
For example, more than half of the fathers surveyed said they cannot (or rarely) count on help from their parents (59%) or stepparents (64%) in fulfilling their family responsibilities.
Help from other relatives or friends is even less common (69% and 76% respectively have little or no access to it).
“It further magnifies the difficulties they will experience,” Professor Lacharité warned. So the fact of creating links, of saying “Come on, don’t isolate yourself, we’ll discuss it, we’ll talk about it, we’ll explore things together, the decisions you have to make, you’re not alone, then we’ll talk about it together.” †
Finally, the proportion of fathers who say they are dissatisfied with their co-parent relationship hovers around 15%, but rises to 35% among single fathers, especially those who have been divorced in the past five years. The quality of the relationship with the co-parent was assessed on the basis of criteria such as “sharing of tasks related to the care and upbringing of the children”, “the quality of communication (between the co-parents)” and “the feeling of being valued in your role as a father by your co-parent”.
Nearly 60% of the fathers who participated in this survey revealed that they had experienced some form of violence (physical, psychological or sexual) during their childhood.
On the plus side, the vast majority of dads believe they have all the skills needed to be a good dad. However, more than a quarter of them admit that they struggle with the difficulties that can arise on a daily basis.
While several researchers have been interested in the psychological distress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, their work has focused primarily on the distress of mothers or even children, Prof Lacharité lamented.
“We have a lot of research data showing that it has had an impact on the lives of families, but […] little was said about what happens to fathers, he said. In families, however, fathers are a character that is just as important as the character of mothers. †
Despite this, about 60% of fathers who responded to the survey said they feel that society values the mother’s role more than theirs.
The tenth edition of Quebec Paternity Week will take place from June 13-19, 2022 under the theme ‘Daddy, do you need help? Because all parents may need support.”
The results of the survey were obtained using an online survey conducted by SOM from March 1 to 11, 2022 among a representative sample of 2,119 Quebec fathers with at least one child under the age of 18 and who personally identify with this parental role.