Consider this. I’m a role model for my children, as any other father is. I must never be too tired after work to spend quality time with my kids. I must never be too busy with my own social life to give my kids enough time. I must never assume that my wife has this covered. I must accept responsibility for raising my kids with sound values. But is it possible to do all of this when there is mental illness in the family?
Whether you like it or not, your kids will be influenced by everything around them. The Internet, teachers, their peers, your peers and extended family and many others. These influences may be truly positive but to ensure that you can raise good kids you must play an active role in their development. But what if you are depressed? By definition, you cannot summon the energy to do these things. Beds go unmade, kids social activities, Christmas and birthday parties are unfortunately miserable for all involved.
Depression is a common mental disorder and, according to the World Health Organisation:
“Common mental disorders are increasing worldwide. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of people suffering from depression and/or anxiety increased by nearly 50%. Close to 10% of the world’s population is affected by one or both of these conditions. Depression alone accounts for 10% of years lived with disability globally.”
You must agree that this is of epidemic proportions and as a result, this year’s World Health Day, on 7 April, will focus on depression. The Day will be a highlight of the ‘Depression: let’s talk’ campaign which aims to ensure that more people with depression both seek and get help.
If you have been affected by depression, please seek help. Start with your Doctor and be honest with him/her. They are experts in mental health and can offer the correct treatment for you or refer you to a specialist. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds. It is not a trivial illness and should not be ignored.
As a Father, it is essential for your children to see you as being open and honest about all illness. Depression is an illness and is nothing that they should be ashamed of. I’ll be posting more about World Health Day (April 7th) on the run up to it and will be organising events for the day. Please get in touch if you would like to be involved.