New parenthood can also bring mental health challenges for Dads – so let’s talk about it!
Perinatal mental health is not a term many new dads have ever heard and probably not something they’ve ever had a conversation about.
However, as this term refers to the mental health & wellbeing during pregnancy and after birth of all parents, including men, and that recent statistics show that 1 in 10 of all new fathers will experience a mental health difficulty, it seems shocking that so many expectant and new dads, are never asked about their own mental wellbeing.
Having a baby is of course amazing and life changing, however for many people, it can also be a really challenging time for a myriad of reasons. This might be due to difficulties from conception and during pregnancy, with either your own or your partners mental or physical health. Or you may have a history of managing anxiety and depression, which can increase the pressures you feel when becoming a dad and you may not feel fully prepared or equipped to cope with this, alongside the sleepless nights and loss of free time a new little one can bring.
It can be hard. However, we need to feel able to talk about this, to not feel ashamed to ask for help and to let dads know that many of us are finding it hard and they are not alone.
I have personal experience of facing some of these feelings & challenges when having a baby and know first-hand how this initial period can amplify underlying mental health difficulties or perhaps bring new ones, as the result of adjusting to becoming a dad and the responsibility that comes with it.
It can feel lonely and isolating at times. Often dads don’t have children at the same time as their friends, which can make finding other men to talk to about how they’re are feeling hard. At times, it can feel difficult to meet other dads with similar aged babies and when you do, you may not feel confident enough to talk about how you are feeling.
This is where Dads in Mind can help
At Dads in Mind, we support dads who are either facing difficulties with their own mental health or who may be supporting their partner who is experiencing mental health challenges. Dads in Mind offers two core types of support for expectant and new dads, which is 1-2-1 peer support either in person, video call or over the phone and informal group meetings, which at the moment are running via Zoom.
The 1-2-1 support gives dads the chance to talk privately to another dad with lived experience, who understands some of what they are going through, is trained to listen, provide support and strategies and sign-post to other organisations or professionals, that might also be helpful.
The group sessions give dads a chance to meet up and talk to other local dads. These sessions are incredible and normally between 6-8 dads attend and really enjoy meeting other dads who are feeling some very similar emotions. It offers them an opportunity to share what they are going through, listen and share coping strategies with each other and seek comfort in the fact that they are not alone in all of this.
We find that talking in a group with people in similar situations is very powerful and provides a sense of camaraderie and can help dads validate what they are thinking and how they are feeling.
If you know a dad that might be finding things hard right now, then reach out and ask them if they are ok. It might be just the conversation they need to know they are not alone, that it’s ok to ask for help and that things will get better.
@dadsinmind – twitter