More isolated, more vulnerable. Fathers in Montreal are 30% more likely to experience mental distress than anywhere else in Quebec, according to a study published Thursday. More traumatic childhood experiences, a lack of awareness of support services, and a lack of confidence in their abilities may explain this trend.
A survey of 2,119 fathers conducted by SOM last March, the results of which were released Thursday on the sidelines of a symposium on men’s well-being, shows that 17% of fathers in Montreal have a mental distress index. IDP) high. In the rest of Quebec, that figure is closer to 13%.
“It may seem paradoxical at first, but in fact fathers are much more isolated in Montreal 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 Raymond Villeneuve, Director General of the Regroupement pour la Valorization de la Paternité (RVP).
According to the study, conducted by Carl Lacharité, researcher and professor specializing in parenting in the Psychology Department of the UQTR, one in ten fathers in Montreal had suicidal thoughts in the past year, a number that is again above the Quebec average (7th %). ). Among fathers with high IDP, 30% had suicidal thoughts.
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 psychological attacks, compared to 36% in the rest of Quebec. About 27% of fathers in Montreal 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 fathers in big cities (18%) also say they are “dissatisfied” with their co-parenting relationship, compared to 13% at the provincial level. Additionally, 15% of fathers in Montreal say they have doubts about their parenting abilities, while that number barely reaches 9% elsewhere in Quebec.
The report also finds that Montreal fathers are less aware of the resources at their disposal: only six in 10 say they know “who to turn to if there is a problem,” compared to 73 % in the rest of the province. Less than one Quebec father with a high IDP level reached out to a resource for help last year.
Deconstruct the prejudice
“Today a lot has changed. Men these days express themselves more about their feelings, talk more. What hasn’t changed, however, is this notion that being a man means not needing help. Even today, it is not easy for a man to ask for help,” explains researcher Carl Lacharité.
The latter says he wants to break down the prejudice that “a man has to be strong and autonomous”. “In fact, it is a broad appeal for empathy towards fathers that we are launching. If we have a father in our peer network, how much do we linger to ask him how he is doing in his role as a father? And if he replies that things are going well, do we ask him to tell us? Lets move on? If we did, we would probably find that things are not going as well as we think,” emphasizes Mr. Lacharité.
For Raymond Villeneuve, the higher cost of living in the greater Montreal area is also “inevitably” responsible for this greater need. “With inflation rising and housing costs rising, it’s obvious there’s 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 make visible the plight of the fathers, to name it, since we actually talk very little about it. When we talk about men, fathers, we deal with the problems much more than with their difficulties. You also need to send a very clear message to these men that it’s okay to have problems and it’s okay to ask for help,” concludes Mr. Villeneuve.