June 21st, 2021 is International Fathers’ Mental Health Day
Although most of us—men and women alike—are socialized to think of men as providers of support during the perinatal period and early parenthood, a wealth of research shows that 10% of new dads experience paternal postpartum depression (50% when mom is depressed!) and tend to need support of their own. However, the stigma against experiencing difficulties in early parenthood is even higher for men than for women. Society views men as stoic, self-sacrificing, and above all, strong. When men feel none of those things as new fathers, they don’t want to admit it or seek help.
For this reason, Postpartum Support International is an enthusiastic supporter of IFMHD as a means to take a whole-family, father-inclusive approach by shedding light on the best practices and related resources for dads, their partners, and those who support them.
Founded by paternal postpartum depression survivor Mark Williams and fatherhood mental health expert and PSI board member Dr. Daniel Singley, IFMHD involves taking the day after Father’s Day to launch a focused social media campaign which highlights key aspects of fathers’ mental health.
Dr Andrew Mayers is an academic psychologist (based at Bournemouth University, UK) specialising in mental health, particularly perinatal mental health (Including fathers) and young people’s mental health. He actively campaigns for raising better awareness for mental health, and challenges stigma and discrimination. He serves on several local and national advisory groups for perinatal mental illness across the UK. He also represents several UK mental health charities. He is a Governor for Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust, a statutory provider of mental health (NHS) services in Dorset, UK. His work with fathers includes research projects exploring the resources and information that fathers need to support their wives, when they experience mental health problems, and the support they need for their own mental health. This work has also focused on fathers who have witnessed their wife/partner’s birth trauma. You can read more about that work on his page dedicated to fathers’ mental health. His charity management includes providing support to enhance parent-infant relationships, especially when that has been damaged by mental health problems. You can follow Andrew on Twitter via @DrAndyMayers
Dr Bronwyn Leigh is a clinical psychologist and Director, Centre for Perinatal Psychology – an Australia-wide network of psychologists specializing in parent and infant wellbeing. Bronwyn is dedicated to helping mothers, fathers, infants, couples and families as they journey into parenthood. She is a co-author of the self-help book Towards Parenthood.