As fathers, we often put our families first and our own needs last. The stress and responsibility of parenthood can be overwhelming, leaving little time or energy for self-care. And sometimes that overwhelming stress can push us in the other direction – driving us to overindulge in work, sports, hobbies, drugs, alcohol, food or any other activity as a way to escape the pressures. Whatever end of the spectrum you fall, neither of these two opposite responses to stress are good.

The truth is, neglecting our own well-being or using “escapes” to manage the stress and responsibility can have serious consequences for ourselves and those we love. That’s why we’re launching a four-part blog series dedicated to helping dads improve their mental, physical, and emotional health.

In this series, we’ll be tackling some of the major challenges facing dads today, from the taboo of discussing mental health to the struggle of finding time for exercise and healthy eating. We understand the unique pressures that come with fatherhood, and we want to provide practical tips and insights to help you prioritize your health and well-being.

Whether you’re dealing with stress, anxiety, or depression, struggling to find time for exercise, or feeling disconnected from your emotions, this series is for you. Our goal is to empower you to become the healthiest and happiest version of yourself, not just for your own sake but for the benefit of your family and loved ones.

So, join us as we dive into this important topic, sharing valuable insights and advice from experts and real dads alike. It’s time to start prioritizing your health and well-being so that you can be the best dad you can be.

Part 1 – Prioritizing Dads Mental Health

As a dad, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily responsibilities of parenting – from changing diapers and preparing meals to shuttling the kids to and from activities. It’s easy to forget that taking care of your own mental health is just as important as taking care of your child’s physical and emotional needs.

According to a recent survey, more than half of Canadian fathers reported feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed. That’s a staggering number, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The pressures of parenting, work, and everyday life can take a toll on anyone’s mental health.

It’s time to start talking about mental health for dads and normalizing the fact that it’s okay to struggle sometimes. As Bell Let’s Talk ambassador and former NHL player, Sheldon Kennedy, says, “Mental health is just as important as physical health. We need to get rid of the stigma and start talking about it openly and honestly.”

The stigma around mental health issues is slowly dissipating, but there’s still work to be done. Many dads feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit that they’re struggling, but it’s important to remember that mental health issues are not a weakness. They are a natural and normal part of the human experience.

Dr. David Goldbloom, Senior Medical Advisor at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, agrees. “Mental health is not something you can power through or just ‘get over.’ It takes work, and that work includes seeking support and treatment when needed.”

So, what can dads do to take care of their mental health?

Mental Health Tips for Dads

First and foremost, it’s important to prioritize self-care. Taking reasonable time for yourself isn’t selfish – it’s essential. Whether it’s going for a run, reading a book, or simply taking a few minutes to breathe deeply and clear your mind, finding ways to unwind and de-stress is crucial for maintaining good mental health.

As Clara Hughes, Canadian Olympic cyclist and Bell Let’s Talk ambassador, says, “Physical activity is a huge part of my mental health. It’s about taking care of yourself in a way that’s good for your body and your mind.”

Another way to prioritize self-care is to schedule time for yourself in your calendar. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day that is just for you to use however you want, it would be worth it.

Getting Professional Support When You Need It

In addition to self-care, seeking professional help when needed is also important. This might mean talking to your family doctor, a therapist, or a mental health professional. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – it’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

One of the most important things a dad can do is to seek support when needed. One of our Champion Dads, 20-year NHL Veteran and former NHLPA president, Trevor Linden, says he’s been seeing a therapist weekly for several years.

“I go to a therapist once a week; I’ve done so for a long time, and it’s been invaluable for me. What’s not to love about being able to talk about where I am at, why something is going on for me and where my feelings are coming from? It’s helped me to be able to understand myself a whole lot better.”

-Trevor Linden

And if you’re not sure where to turn, there are resources available. Heads Up Guys ( is a fantastic organization that focusses on men’s mental health. The Mental Health Commission of Canada also has a wealth of information and resources for finding help.

Building Social Support as a Dad

It’s also important to connect with other dads and build a support network. Talking to other parents who are going through similar struggles can be incredibly helpful. Joining a support group or even just chatting with other dads at the playground can make a big difference.

As we’ve heard from many of the guests on our podcast, being part of a community of dads that understands, appreciates and supports you makes a HUGE difference. This anecdotal evidence is bolstered by the volumes of research that says social support improves personal resilience, the ability to withstand or overcome difficulties. This article from Very Well Mind says it simply, “Social support is often identified as a key component of solid relationships and strong psychological health,”

Dealing with Stress, Anxiety and Depression

It’s also important to recognize and address common mental health issues that dads face. Stress, anxiety, and depression are some of the most common challenges that dads experience. These issues can be caused by a variety of factors, such as work pressure, financial strain, relationship difficulties, and the demands of parenting.

It’s important to take steps to manage these issues. This might mean practicing mindfulness, taking breaks when needed, or seeking professional help. It’s important to address these issues before they become overwhelming.

Practicing mindfulness is a simple and powerful tool to reduce stress, improve focus, and increase well-being. To get started, set aside a specific time each day to practice. Find a quiet space where you can sit comfortably and focus on your breath. Notice any thoughts or feelings that arise without judgment. Expand your awareness to other sensations in your body. Practice regularly, for at least 5-10 minutes each day. By following these steps, you can start to experience the benefits of mindfulness practice.

Mental Health Matters for Dads and Their Families

The bottom line is that mental health is just as important as physical health. As dads, we need to prioritize our own well-being in order to be the best possible parents for our children.

As Canadian singer-songwriter and Bell Let’s Talk ambassador, Séan McCann, says, “Mental health is an important part of fatherhood. It’s about being there for your family, being present, and being able to enjoy life with them.”

So let’s keep the conversation going about mental health for dads. It’s time to normalize the fact that it’s okay to struggle sometimes, and let’s encourage dads to prioritize their own mental health as a vital part of their fatherhood role. Together, we can break down the stigma and build a culture of support and understanding.


For specific resources connect with Dad Central. Download a free resource, read additional blogs, enroll in our fatherhood fundamentals course, or just email us at [email protected].

About The Author – Drew Soleyn

I’m the Director of Dad Central Ontario, Founder of Connected Dads, and a Career Coach at the Queen's Smith School of Business. As an ICF and Maxwell Leadership certified Coach, Trainer & Speaker, I help struggling dads show up at their best for the people who matter most.

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