On 21st June 2021, it was International Father’s Mental Health Day, a day founded by Mark Williams, International Campaigner, Public Speaker, and someone with lived experience of their own mental health difficulties in parenthood.
Mark became involved in the health sector after supported his wife with postnatal depression and experiencing his own emotional breakdown. We know that those who are supporting a loved one with anxiety or depression are up to 50% more likely to develop emotional difficulties, so it makes sense why Mark struggled with his own mental health.
Many fathers struggle with the demands of parenthood because it is hard work! It’s just that mental illness in father’s isn’t necessarily something that is routinely talked about by healthcare professionals due to the stigma attached as well as the lack of awareness of the impact that parenthood can have on a partners mental health in the perinatal period. Many still think that only mothers can develop mental illness during pregnancy, birth and beyond, but we know that this is not the case.
I wrote a blog previously on Postnatal Depression in Fathers/partners, however, it isn’t just PND that can occur when men become parents. Fathers/partners can experience Perinatal OCD, where the focus of obsessions tends to be around harm being caused to their baby, Birth Trauma, when a partner witnesses the mother's birth and fears that either Mum or Baby's life is at risk, & Generalised Anxiety Disorder, which is characterised by excessive worrying about things such as work, finances, health (whether their own or baby's) relationships and coping with a new baby. Research is gradually revealing to us that hormones are not the only factor at play for the development of mental health difficulties when we become parents.
The important thing to remember is men can also suffer, and that suffering need not be in silence because the Perinatal Mental Health industry is moving with the times and the research that shows how men can benefit from being asked about and included in the pregnancy and postnatal plan of their expectant partners.
Below, I have listed useful links for support on social media that is available. I would recommend giving the following accounts a follow on social media if you are on it yourself. @mhsupport4u @p_m_h_support @fathers_mentalhealth @dadpaduk @mantenatal @dadmattersuk
Even though most of my referrals come from women, I am trained in and passionate about working with partners too. After all, we need to support the whole family, not just the Mama. If you are a Mama reading this, be reassured that what your partner may be going through is normal, and there is support and acceptance out there. If you are a partner of the Mama, and you can relate to finding it hard being a Dad, please reach out. Whether to me, or to one of the many accounts on social media that I have listed above, that are designed to help people just like you. The help is there, you just need to get to a place where you can accept it. I can be contacted here if you wanted to chat further.
Sending love, hope and strength!