A Father’s Day Message from Superintendent Sato: Raising Awareness for Men’s Mental Health

June 16, 2023 | Featured, News

Superintendent Jon Sato

This weekend we acknowledge and celebrate Father’s Day, dedicated to honoring the fathers and father figures in our lives. These are the men who have loved us in their unique ways. We express our deep gratitude and love for their strength, wisdom, and unwavering support.

However, like Mother’s Day, we must remember that Father’s Day is not a biblical mandate. It is a cultural observance. While some rejoice in the celebration, others may bear heavy hearts. It may carry different emotions for different people. There are those among us who have lost fathers, those who want to be fathers but are unable to, and those who have complex or strained relationships with their fathers. For these individuals, this weekend may be a time of grief, longing, or pain.

As a church, we are called to recognize this reality and hold space for those who are hurting, even amidst the celebration. In our roles as believers and leaders, we are reminded of Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” It is our duty to not only share in the joy, but also to bear the burdens of those who grieve or struggle.

As we navigate the complexity of this day, we also want to shed light on an issue that often goes unnoticed — men’s mental health. Studies indicate that men are less likely to seek help for mental health issues, often due to societal expectations and norms. Unfortunately, men can feel they must adhere to traditional male gender roles that stigmatize and limit their emotional range. To be vulnerable, I believed those norms for much of my life.

Back in 2018, I was aware of mental health issues, but thought I did not experience them. In a span of one week, I had four panic attacks. These were the beginning of a journey in my mental health realizing how much anxiety and depression I deal with on a daily basis. I was fortunate to have support and continue to seek therapy and support for my mental health. I share this with you to attempt to destigmatize getting help for mental health. If you, or anyone you know, is hurting, struggling, or feeling overwhelmed, please remember that it’s okay to reach out for help. There are resources available, and there is no shame in utilizing them. You are not alone, and your church family is here to support you. Every person has a right to experience and express a full range of emotions, and seeking help for mental health concerns is not a sign of weakness, but rather of strength. It takes courage to acknowledge our struggles and seek assistance.

On this Father’s Day, we honor all men, regardless of whether they hold the title “father” in a conventional sense. Uncles, brothers, mentors, teachers, and friends who have provided guidance, wisdom, and love — we celebrate you. Your influence has been instrumental in shaping our lives, and we are better for it.

I encourage you to reach out to someone who might need to hear a kind word or be checked on.  Let’s embrace the complexity of this day. Let’s honor, remember, and support one another. Let’s extend love, understanding, and grace to those who are hurting. And above all, let’s continue to lift each other in prayer and fellowship today and every day.

Superintendent Jon Sato
Free Methodist Church in Southern California

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