MensLine Australia is expecting more than 8000 calls during the holiday period from separated men.
Call patterns to MensLine Australia show special days like Christmas increase distress, both on the day itself and for the weeks to come. The extreme isolation and emotional pain many men feel is apparent when they contact MensLine Australia and reach out for help. “Traditionally the festive season is about giving, sharing and spending time with the family,” says Randal Newton-John of MensLine Australia. “But for men whose family has fallen apart, it can be a time of acute loneliness and even distress as they compare this season to happier years.” Tensions over access to children are often intensified, with many fathers concerned they won’t be able to see their children and worried about how their children will cope without them. “Separated men and families can also experience financial stress over the festive season and worry whether they have given enough to their children,” says Newton-John. “Additionally the common consumption of alcohol over this period can lead to increased family violence.” More Australian men are realising that talking about their concerns and options can help them to better cope with their situation and are choosing to call MensLine Australia, have a counselling session via online chat, or do video counselling via Skype. The only national professional telephone support and information service for men, the service receives more than 40,000 calls each year and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
MensLine Australia counsellors have provided the following tips for separated dads to help reduce the pressure, both during the festive season and throughout the year:
- Moving or ‘handing-over’ is often a difficult time for separated families. Schedule ‘hand overs’ to occur at neutral locations.
- Create opportunities to really engage with your children both surrounding Christmas and throughout the year. Playing sport, going on day trips, or creating backyard masterpieces are ways to create positive memories for you and your children.
- If you can’t physically be with your children, be part of their lives through letters, emails, text messages, phone calls and photos. Let them know what’s been happening in your life and that you care about what’s been happening in their lives.