baby and daddy

by Mark Williams |

The first Maternal Mental Health Day took place on the first Wednesday in May, 4 May 2016.

On World Maternal Mental Health Day, people from around the world connect to discuss the challenges and possible solutions to this important topic relating to mothers.

So why do I stress the importance of supporting fathers too?

  • Research shows that at least 1 in 10 fathers suffer from Postnatal Depression (PND). I feel this is more likely to be more as men tend to leave it till crisis point years later
  • Fathers can experience antenatal anxiety and depression too.
  • Fathers tend to be diagnosed with Clinical depression after the perinatal period. dads should have the EPDS screening tool too.
  • The rate of suicide among men aged 30 to 44 years increases around of time of becoming a father.
  • Men are not mentioned in the NICE guidelines (relating to antenatal period/postnatal) and fall through the early prevention services net.
  • Fathers tend to suffer in silence and often use negative coping methods such as alcohol and drugs which can lead to anger and violence.
  • Around 2 in 3 fathers who should have received support are no longer together in the family unit (source: Fathers Reaching Out)
  • Fathers are the main source of support for the mother and children at this time and often feel the pressure of failing to live up to expectations.
  • Fathers can suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when they witness their loved one going through a difficult birth and feel hopelessness.
  • If only the father experiences mental illness, this puts a strain on the mother’s mental health and can lead to both partners becoming unwell.
  • A father who is unwell is more less likely to bond with their children.
  • Fathers with a history of mental illness is more likely to be unwell again due to stress of becoming a father and looking after a partner with a perinatal mental health illness.
  • Fathers who has conditions as ADHD, Asperger’s and Autism will struggle more in the labor room with their partners. ( Source Own experience and Reaching Out PMH )
  • Father who suffer from anxiety in the workplace should be supported during this time.  Fathers I spoke to feel that more pressure to work longer to support the family has a big effect on their mental health. ( Source Fathers Reaching Out 2012)
  • I have another entire book of father’s personal stories and mothers of reasons why support should be in place for both parents.

In my new book Fathers and Perinatal Mental Health which I am co-writing with perinatal mental health specialist Dr Jane Hanley, I explain that over a thousand fathers have told me one thing: “Nobody ever asked me how I was feeling” and “I couldn’t tell anyone as I had to be the rock for my family”.

It can take years for negative experiences to manifest so by offering support to fathers too at this stressful time and adopting a preventative approach, more families will enjoy the miracle of childbirth and go on to live happier.

Visit the WMMHDAY website