Mental distress | Montreal fathers are more affected than elsewhere in Quebec, according to a study

More isolated, more vulnerable. Montreal fathers are 30% more likely to suffer from mental illness than elsewhere in Quebec, a study published Thursday found. More traumatic experiences in childhood, lack of awareness of support services and lack of confidence in their abilities could explain this trend.

A survey conducted by the firm SOM among 2,119 fathers last March, the results of which were published Thursday on the sidelines of a symposium on men’s well-being, shows that 17% of fathers in Montreal present an index of mental disorders. ( IDP) high. In the rest of Quebec, this figure is more like 13%.

“It may seem paradoxical at first glance, but in fact fathers in Montreal are much more isolated than in the rest of Quebec. In Montreal, there are many fathers who come from outside the country. When they arrive here, their solidarity network is no longer there,” explains the director general of the Regroupement pour la valorization de la paternité (RVP), Raymond Villeneuve.

According to the study, conducted by Carl Lacharité, a researcher and professor specializing in parenting in the psychology department at UQTR, one in ten fathers in Montreal have had suicidal thoughts in the past year, which is again a figure higher than the Quebec average. (7% ). Among fathers with high IDP, 30% of them had had suicidal thoughts.

Causes, solutions?

Five factors in particular explain these differences. First, Montreal fathers are “more likely than all Quebec fathers to have experienced the most severe forms of childhood violence”.

In fact, 41% of them say they have suffered psychic attacks, compared to 36% in the rest of Quebec. About 27% of Montreal fathers say they have experienced serious physical violence, compared to 20% in Quebec, and 13% sexual assault, compared to 9% in the province.

Almost one in five metropolitan fathers (18%) also report being “dissatisfied” with their co-parenting relationship, compared to 13% at the provincial level. Furthermore, 15% of Montreal fathers say they doubt their parenting skills, while this figure barely reaches 9% elsewhere in Quebec.

The report also notes that Montreal fathers are less aware of the resources available to them: just under six in ten say they know “who to contact in case of a problem,” compared to 73% in the rest of the province. Fewer than one Quebec father with high IDP rates consulted a resource for help last year.

Deconstruct the prejudice

“A lot of things have changed today. Men, these days, express more about their feelings, talk more. But what hasn’t changed is this perception that being a man means you don’t need help For a man, even today, it is not easy to ask for help,” explains researcher Carl Lacharité.

The latter says he wants to deconstruct the prejudice that “a man must be strong, autonomous”. “In fact, it is a broad appeal for empathy towards fathers that we are launching. When we have a father in our network of colleagues, to what extent do we linger to ask him how he feels in his role as a father? And if he answers that it is going well, do we ask him to tell us? Shall we move on? If we did, we would probably realize that things are not going as well as we think,” insists Mr. Lacharité.

For Raymond Villeneuve, the higher cost of living in Greater Montreal is also “inevitably” responsible for this greater distress. “With inflation and housing costs rising, it is obvious that there is a connection. The solutions are harder to see when you have less money,” he says.

In his eyes, “there is no magic solution”. “We have to act on different levels. The first is really to highlight the distress of fathers, to name a few, since we basically talk very little about it. When we talk about men, fathers, we deal much more with the problems than with their difficulties. You also have to send a very clear message to these men that it’s okay to have problems, it’s okay to ask for help,” concludes Mr. Villeneuve.

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