As important as health is, men are notoriously bad at taking care of it. In fact, personal health often gets attention only after declining to a level that impacts several aspects of a man’s life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 12% of adult men have only fair to poor health. Roughly 30% of adult men have had five or more drinks in one day once in a year, and about 37% qualify as obese under federal standards. Notably, poor health, alcohol use, and obesity are strongly correlated with the two leading causes of death for men: heart disease and cancer.
Furthermore, mental health—one of the most misunderstood aspects of personal health—receives just as little, if not less, attention than physical health. Data gathered and processed by the CDC revealed that suicide rates for men between the ages of 15 and 64 significantly increased between 1999 and 2017.
Health and Divorce
Significantly, there is a strong correlation between social relationships and personal health, be it physical or mental. A breakdown in close social relationships can negatively impact one’s health and vice versa. Divorce—an experience that is widely known to be a leading cause of stress—can make the task of staying healthy seem out of reach. The emotional hardships associated with divorce can lead to depression and anxiety, which in turn can impair one’s ability to maintain healthy habits. However, by committing to a lifestyle that focuses on personal health, men will be better equipped to handle the emotional toll that comes with divorce.
Better nutritional, addressing problems with sleep and increasing physical activity are things that have been proven to substantially improve a person’s ability to cope with stress. Cutting down on alcohol, smoking, and committing to a healthier diet and exercise routine among the best ways men can drastically improve their physical and mental health.
Health and Child Custody
Raising children can be challenging. The demands of parenting often lead to poor self-care, including lack of sleep, unhealthy diet and reduced exercise, which can exacerbate a person’s risk of depression and anxiety. When divorce is thrown into the mix, the resulting health impact can be very concerning. Furthermore, a person with existing poor health habits has a lesser overall chance of meeting the challenges of parenting. This fact is baked into the law of determining child custody in divorce cases.
Most states base child custody determinations on factors relevant to the child’s best interests. The primary concern when it comes to child custody involves figuring out what custody arrangement is better suited to maximize the welfare and safety of a minor child. Case in point, Michigan statutory law specifically lists “the mental and physical health of the parties involved” as a factor that courts are required to evaluate when making custody determinations.
In short, a man’s commitment to improving his own health cannot be understated as he deals with the challenges of custody battles and divorce. It should be no surprise that a person who practices good judgment in personal health has a strong basis for instilling good habits to enhance the wellbeing of their children.
Steps to staying healthy during divorce
While it important to recognize that your divorce attorney is not a doctor or a therapist, it is also true that experienced lawyers have walked a lot of men through this process. A conscientious lawyer will acknowledge health issues—whether they be physical or mental, substance abuse or other addiction-- and how those issues can be managed during the proceedings and after. An important step in this is recommending that a man get a physical as he begins the process. A doctor can make recommendations about managing physical or mental health during stressful times. Likewise, finding a good counselor to discuss the personal toll of this process can be beneficial. If a man has health issues, they need to be acknowledged and addressed. Clients will often ask if seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment will create a stigma or “be used against them.” If anything, failing to seek such treatment in light of history of these types of challenges is what is likely to be a problem.
Contact the American Divorce Association for Men for Quality Guidance
You don’t have to endure the hardships of divorce alone. At the American Divorce Association for Men, we have dedicated our professional careers to helping fathers cope with the legal and lifestyle burdens associated with the divorce process. Our legal team can help you navigate the legal complexities of your case and introduce you to a support network for getting through the experience with your health and dignity.
Contact us at (248) 327-0050 to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys about your case today.