Being a Father with a Mental Health Difficulty by Johnny Hunt


Being a Father with a Mental Health Difficulty

by Johnny Hunt, See Change Ambassador

Writing this has been a real challenge for me. My mental health issues do not define who I am as a person or parent I’m just me take it or leave it. When you have your issues to deal with, you can focus solely on that in the battle to keep well but it is a challenge. When you add in bringing up children it certainly makes it an interesting juggling act. I want to make it clear this is about my journey and I totally respect anyone who experiences dealing with a mental health issue parent or not. Long before being a dad and in some of the darkest times I would totally rule out being one.  I had zero self-belief that I could cope with being a parent when it took every ounce of energy to stay well. Becoming a dad for the first time 12 years ago certainly changed my outlook on life. When youre handed this little bundle of joy without an instruction manual well you just do your best and this is my philosophy on life. Being a dad brings its own challenges and lots of joys of all those first-time milestones.  Living with bipolar disorder you worry that your little ones may have it, but you try not to think about it which is hard as a natural worrier. You also still have to manage your mental health and the sleepless nights of bipolar is at least a godsend when dealing with the sleepless nights of a newborn!!! The self-care part of managing your mental health when a dad is certainly the most challenging as your children’s wellbeing always comes first.  You do put yourself on the backburner at times and in hindsight my mental health has probably been affected by that.  You can only do your best. As you get older you certainly get more wiser as to what works for you every day is an opportunity to learn to do different. Doing one positive thing for myself every day when juggling life helps for sure whether its going to the gym or going for a walk it helps so much to bring calmness. I have to work really hard to make sure the not so good days don’t impact on my little people but I’m lucky to have a very supportive partner. You can your best. Im so proud of my two mini me’s they are full of fun and loving life I’m happy and proud.  I don’t know if there is a stigma to be being a dad with a mental health issue, I’ve never asked any one! To be honest it doesn’t define who I am anyway!  Yes It does make me extra mindful that I try to give my gang the settled childhood that I didn’t have. I hope it make life’s pitfalls a bit easier to deal with having gone through them. 
To any other dads with a mental health issue or not I’ve always got your back. 
You can only do your best. 



If you are having a tough time at the moment and need to reach out for support, please contact any of the following


Samaritans: 116123

Pieta House: 1800 247 247

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