Photo of a father holding his baby

Mental health: fathers need support

Ongoing research by Bournemouth University academic Dr Andrew Mayers has revealed there is not enough mental health support for new fathers.  

Amidst increased government spending on NHS mental health services, he said: “Absolutely nothing is being done to support fathers.”

His preliminary research which involved 40 men who witnessed traumatic births found many were not given enough information or aftercare.

Others expressed symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

He said: ”We know traumatic births are a trigger for postnatal depression in mothers, hospitals need to respect that the father will be affected by this too.”

In 2015, research from the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) found that one in three new fathers were concerned about their mental health due to “increased pressures of fatherhood”.

Mark Williams, from Bridgend, became a campaigner for fathers’ mental health after he saw the traumatic birth of his son and developed PTSD.

He said: “I didn’t know what it was until years later. I wish there had been more help and information.”

Westbourne’s mother and baby inpatient unit offer help to new fathers but have had difficulties.

Jagoda Banovic, the unit service manager, said: “We’ve tried a father’s group run by our psychologist and ward manager who are both men, but dads just didn’t come.”

“As a father finding people in your position to openly talk to is hard”

Around Bournemouth there are support groups for fathers, like Saturdads in Merley and Dorset Dads who meet at cafes and parks.

Sion Ray, an event organiser with Dorset Dads, highlighted the difficulties men face finding support from other fathers.

He said: ”As a father finding people in your position to openly talk to is hard. Going in to a group of mothers and talking is a lot harder than talking to other fathers.”

DorPip Pilot Project

New charity DorPip (Dorset Parent Infant Partnership) hopes to get fathers involved during their pilot project in February.

Vivian Allen, service manager, said: ”Their suffering is equal to women’s, but they are under-represented. We are really aware of that within DorPip.”

As a part of the nationwide charity Parent Infant Partnership (PIP UK), they will offer relationship support between infants and their parents or guardian across Dorset.

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