With the stark statistics that 1 in 10 dads-to-be experience depression during their partner's pregnancy and the number of men becoming depressed in the first year after becoming a father is double that of the general population, support for men's perinatal mental health is more important than ever.

Doug Marshall is Dad’s Co-ordinator at Home-Start Glasgow South where he runs a dads antenatal group and a dad’s perinatal support group. He explains why it’s important to provide mental health support specifically to dads.

Doug says: “There’s still this image of dad as the breadwinner, but over the years dads have become much more involved in family life. Of course this is great, but services haven’t kept up, so there’s little support focused on dads.

Dads attended our antenatal groups, where they were helped to prepare for the birth, but once the baby was born they were largely left to their own devices. Many dads told us they were struggling with their mental health and wanted some support, but didn’t feel the existing baby groups worked for them. We know there’s no manual with children, so we chat about different aspects of parenting, for instance ideas to help nurture their relationships with their children, and the importance of communication and play.

We don’t have to discuss mental health, we might talk about a traumatic birth experience, or the challenges in looking after young children. Regardless of what is discussed, dads are able to build up connections. By supporting dads in this way we are helping them to create the best possible environment to raise healthy and happy children.

One of the dads attending the group is Mark Davies. Mark does the majority of childcare, but felt he didn’t fit into the usual baby groups."

Mark said “My wife quickly built up a network of mums from attending antenatal groups, but I wasn’t able to do the same with the dads. When I saw Home-Start had a group for dads, I saw it as a good opportunity to meet others in a similar situation to me.

Attending those weekly groups became my connection to the world outside my home. Talking and sharing experiences with other dads helped my mental wellbeing.

The group provides a place where you can vent about the challenges of looking after a child. Without it life would have been much more difficult and I’d have felt quite lonely. 

So often dads are left out or seen as an afterthought, but we are also involved in raising children. Times are changing and that needs to be reflected in the support that’s available to dads. My ability to be a good dad is strengthened by attending this group.”

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In addition to the dad's support groups within Home-Starts, another Home-Start project is Dad Matters which aims to make sure dads know how important they are, how to access support when they need it and why their role can aid their baby’s development.   

 

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