Tees shines a light on men's mental health

This month, as global men’s health movement, Movember, shines a light on men’s health, it's crucial to recognise the  physical and emotional impacts of divorce and family breakdown on men’s health – an issue which has traditionally been overlooked.  

Movember has been raising awareness of men's health for 20 years, increasingly highlighting mental health issues, including depression,  anxiety and the high rate of suicide in men. By acknowledging and addressing the emotional toll of divorce and family breakdown on men, we can link this discussion to the broader efforts of Movember to encourage men to speak about their feelings and seek support when needed. 

The emotional impact of divorce and family breakdown can be immense for everyone involved, with feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, loss of identity, and loneliness taking a toll. Parental roles may change and there can be financial stresses, all of which can cause anxiety about stability and the future.

The physical health consequences can also be serious. Emotional distress leads to sleep disturbances and a weakened immune system, making men more vulnerable to illnesses. Neglecting healthy habits, like exercise and balanced nutrition, worsens the situation.

Societal expectations often cause men to feel like they have to hide their emotions, which can adversely affect their mental well-being and their ability to navigate their way through.  

Recognising these challenges, it's important to connect this discussion to suicide awareness in men. High-stress situations, such as divorce, can exacerbate mental health issues and potentially increase the risk of suicide. By acknowledging these challenges and discussing the need for support and coping strategies, we can contribute to suicide prevention efforts, especially among men who may be more reluctant to seek help.

Mark Chiverton, Solicitor from Tees' Family team, comments:

“As a family lawyer and Resolution member, I strive to do everything I can to reduce the emotional strain of divorce and family breakdown for clients – by promoting a constructive approach and seeking alternative means of dispute resolution.  But it’s inescapable that divorce and family breakdown can be challenging – and for some it can be particularly difficult to cope with.  I see Movember as an opportunity to highlight this and empower men to navigate the challenges and emerge stronger, both mentally and emotionally.

“Working with families going through divorce and separation, I recognise the emotional strain on everyone involved, and that it affects individuals in different ways – just because a client doesn’t say they’re finding things difficult, doesn’t mean they are not!  By recognising this and cultivating empathy, I can support clients through the legal process more effectively and can recommend specialist support from mental health professionals where this would be beneficial.  Early legal advice can really help provide clarity and direction through the fog.”

Seeking emotional support from friends, family, or professional counsellors is essential. 

Sarah Fahy, Psychotherapist comments: 

“In the face of divorce's challenges, it’s crucial for men to know that it's okay to ask for help and take the time needed to heal and rebuild a fulfilling life. Prioritising mental health through professional support helps process emotions during divorce in a healthy manner. Embracing a healthy lifestyle with exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep is crucial for both physical and mental well-being. Setting realistic expectations for the healing journey reduces unnecessary pressure.

Mark's comments highlight the importance of addressing men's health during divorce and the need for self-care and professional support. Seeking assistance from qualified counsellors and therapists can significantly aid individuals through this transformative period.

The British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (www.bacp.co.uk) and the UK Council for Psychotherapy (www.ukcp.org.uk) host ‘Find a therapist’ directories. Seeking support from qualified professionals, such as UKCP registered and BACP accredited psychotherapist such as myself at Stort Psychotherapy (www.stortpsychotherapy.co.uk), can aid individuals in overcoming these challenges during this demanding period.

Remember, taking care of oneself is paramount during this journey of resilience and renewal beyond divorce.”

Chat to the Author, Mark Chiverton

Solicitor, Families and Divorce, Bishop's Stortford office

Meet Mark
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