Leading family law firm, Rayden Solicitors, reveals that often men’s mental health can be more negatively impacted by divorce than they might expect, and highlights the need for greater support.
According to NHS data, 1 in 4 adults experiences at least one diagnosable mental health issue per year, combined with the sobering statistic from the ONS that over three quarters of people who commit suicide are men.
The restrictions of a third lockdown in the darker month of January make it a notably difficult time for couples to get divorced. While the most recent ONS data shows that opposite-sex divorce is at its highest level in five years, data from mental health charity Mind revealed that a third of adults did not seek support during the first lockdown because they did not think that their issue was serious enough.
With reports of NHS services being overwhelmed this winter, this issue is set to become prevalent again, and demonstrates how being in lockdown makes it less likely that men will actively seek mental health support.
Julian Bremner, divorce solicitor and partner at Rayden Solicitors, highlights the mental health issues faced by men in the divorce process with insights from the family law team, and offers advice for how men can best seek help for mental health post-divorce.
Why are men more likely to have mental health issues post-divorce?
The emotional, financial and family difficulties that can accompany divorce can lead to mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, as well as eating disorders. Rory Laide, a specialist family law solicitor with experience in all aspects of divorce, separation, and financial settlements, says:
“Regardless of how straightforward a divorce may or may not be from a legal standpoint, it is often an incredibly emotional time for both parties and as such it is completely natural to struggle with this process. If there are children, it is common for either or both parties to have neglected their own well-being during the divorce as their focus has been on shielding the children.”
It is not so much how a process starts but how the parties deal with the process once underway. Some men find sharing their personal feelings and struggles uncomfortable. By failing to confide in friends or family members, they can very quickly feel like they are dealing with this very stressful process by themselves.
Generally, women tend to cope quite differently compared to men. They are less afraid to reach out to their friends who provide the support needed when going through such a challenging time. Female clients are much more likely to readily accept suggestions to reach out for external help, and be active in seeking the help they need. This is to their benefit, as the process, even if dealt with as amicably as possible, can still take its toll – mental resilience is key.
How can men and anyone else going through a divorce look after their mental health?
Despite being a difficult and mentally straining process, there are accessible and simple ways to look after your mental health whilst going through a divorce. Che Meakins of Rayden Solicitors, who focuses on providing excellent client care, provided insight into the reasons for the mental health impact of divorce and how to deal with it:
“My sense is that the increased awareness around mental health issues in recent years, but also the gender equality and LGBT movements, have done a great deal towards encouraging men to abandon more traditional habits, and to confront and talk about their personal issues and emotional challenges.”
There are key steps that should be taken to lessen the strain on your mental health during the divorce process.
- Speak to your GP or seek therapeutic guidance
When male clients suffer this strain, it is advisable to seek help from their GP or therapeutic support, even though this suggestion is not always something that is readily accepted. Gaining the right support helps build the mental resilience that generally results in a better outcome with regards to the divorce process.
A collaboration with psychotherapist Dr Tarun Pamneja, has resulted in the development of a very simple 3-4 step programme geared specifically towards the needs of men, with the aim of assisting them through the divorce process. The ‘Man Mind Journey Planner’ is a bespoke programme available to any man that helps them to seek the support and assistance they need in order to regain a balanced and healthy perspective on a very difficult time in their life.
- Use close family and friends for support
An issue that is often more prevalent in men is the propensity to avoid talking about feelings, and a failure to seek emotional support whether that is with friends, family or from professionals, such as counsellors and therapists. This is an issue that has been recognized in many areas of men’s lives, not just when it comes to divorce and separation.
- Take the advice of trusted professionals
“No two divorces are the same and being able to treat each case on an individual basis and really understand the issues being faced by clients,” says Che Meakins, “whether they are practical or emotional, is at the core of the work of family solicitors.”
Mark Etherington, Senior Associate at Rayden Solicitors, says, “It is encouraged for anybody going through a divorce to seek professional support. For example, a therapist or counsellor may be the right expert for you, and your solicitors will have contacts in these industries that could help you.”
- Find common reassurances to smooth the process
“Whilst there is no hard and fast rule, from my experience it is the arrangements for children which tend to cause fathers and husbands the greatest anxiety,” says Che Meakins, “and the sense that somehow they are going to be excluded from their children’s lives. The common reaction to this is to exert pressure of their own in relation to the finances.
My advice is for wives to reassure their husbands that they are not going to use the children as leverage. I will advise husbands to reassure their wives about finances. In the majority of cases, this will rapidly ease tension and lead to a far more conciliatory outcome that is agreeable to both parties.”
Where you can seek help
- The Man Mind Journey Planner – https://raydensolicitors.co.uk/about-us/the-man-mind-journey/
- Mental health charity, Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk/
- 24/7 call line at Samaritans, for someone to talk to if you’re struggling to cope – https://www.samaritans.org/
- Family support services charity, Family Lives – https://www.familylives.org.uk/
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member today.
Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Shutterstock