Tomorrow is International fathers mental health day. The day was foundered by my friend Mark Williams after he spoke out about his struggles with mental health after witnessing the traumatic birth of his son.
Mark’s life was turned upside down after the birth of his son. Both Mark and his wife were suffering from anxiety . Mark hit rock bottom when he began to experience suicidal thoughts, he started to experience panic attacks and went on to have a breakdown.
Mark admits that he found it hard to care for his wife while he himself was so unwell however; despite this I think it is important to note that the reason for these negative emotions and spiralling depression had nothing to do with the love for their son…that was never an issue. They were both experiencing a long recognised condition…postnatal depression ( paternal depression for males)
Mark felt alone, he found it hard to talk to others about what he was experiencing and this he thinks is what led to his breakdown.
It’s not all doom and gloom though…Mark is a strong willed man who was going to get well, he started to take medication and took a course of cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness. Later down the line Mark was diagnosed with ADHD and this put things into perspective for him.
Had Mark always needed to take medication? Was witnessing the traumatic birth of his son a trigger for him?
With all these questions Mark went on to train in mental health and perinatal mental health. He is a Trustee of Welsh Charity Perinatal Mental Health Cymru (PMH Cymru) and he sees the running Dads Cymru, a project of PMH Cymru that looks to support dads.
International fathers mental health day is for all the dads out there who are experiencing mental health problems whether that be paternal depression, schizophrenia, bipolar or anxiety. Dads need support just as much as mums.
As most of my readers know, I am the founder of PMH Cymru so I am going to focus on dads who are suffering from paternal mental health difficulties.
Did you know?
Today it is estimated that one father in three experiences paternal depression.
In Britain the estimate by the National Childbirth Trust is that 73% of new fathers worry about their partner’s mental health while 38% worry about their own mental health.
Although most of us (men and women alike) are brought up 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 mum 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.
Marks project with PMH Cymru can help.
With monthly peer support meetings for dads and partners Men can feel relaxed and in control of their own thoughts and feeling around others who are in a similar position to themselves.
Marks group meetings are to start in September in Llandaff North Cardiff.
PMH Cymru can offer one to one peer based support for dads and partners if a group setting is not possible.
Around 65,000 men suffer with paternal postpartum depression per year in UK alone – You are not alone don’t suffer in silence
To find out more about International fathers mental health day and its founder Mark Williams please click HERE
To find out more about Perinatal Mental Health Cymru please click HERE