Dr. Pierre Azzam may not be a father, but he has dedicated his career to helping fathers thrive through his Braver Man platform.
In Mental Health Awareness Month, Dr. Azzam with the psychiatrist and men’s health Consultant Dr. Gregory Scott Brown on Instagram Live show Friday Sessions about his approach to men’s mental health and work on Braver Man, a training platform designed to help men, especially fathers, improve their overall mental health and well-being.
For Dr. Azzam, the topic of men’s mental health is a very personal one. The psychiatrist and life coach was first diagnosed with major depression while in medical school. It was a time when he was learning to treat patients suffering from the same ailment he was silently facing, which fueled his interest in the field of mental health.
“It felt so important and personal to me to be able to help others feel heard and that they weren’t alone in their experiences when it came to mental health,” Dr. Azzam said at Friday’s sessions.
He gained a special interest in men’s mental health due to the nuances and stigma men face when dealing with mental illness. It is the stigma he must face before seeking treatment for his depression.
“[Men] I like that you are competent, strong and self-sufficient. strong. Thus, it becomes really difficult to reach out for help in those moments. And saw the same thing.”
Through his work on men’s mental health, Dr. Azzam has identified disadvantaged populations of men who need support: fathers, especially those in early parenthood. Braver Man was created to support men on their mental health journey, with a special focus on young fathers.
With his focus on parenting, it may be surprising to learn that Dr. Azzam is not a father himself. In fact, not directly testing paternity nearly prevented him from specializing in helping fathers.
“I had this big inner critic who said to me, ‘Well, you’re not a father. What man would listen to you? How would you help other men who are facing something you don’t?” He told Dr. Brown. “But in many ways, not being a father was an advantage.”
Through two decades of work, Dr. Azzam said he’s discovered that the onset of postpartum depression is more “cunning for fathers,” and most often happens to fathers when the baby is between three to six months old. health professionals.
“I didn’t really appreciate that postpartum depression was such an important issue for fathers until a decade into clinical practice,” he said. “About 10 percent of men will experience major depression in the first year of parenthood.”
Although one in 10 fathers will suffer from depression in the first year of parenthood, Dr. Azzam emphasized that the experience is relatively overlooked. Depressed parents can then fall into the “failed” or “babysitter” stereotype when they are really trying to stay afloat.
So what’s the solution to help parents thrive? Like everything about men’s mental health, more conversation and awareness is needed to help challenge stigma.
“Parents are a huge part of parenting,” Dr. Azzam said. “We need to include dad in the conversation with the family and ask how dad is doing.”
Watch the full conversation here:
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