Some time ago, I decided to speak out about my mental health, my experience with professionals regarding reaching out to fathers. Myself, as a dad of a child with severe disability and autism I had to go through all stages of grief but I received no support as no one asked me how do I feel. I knew that things need to change. When I looked around I couldn’t find many male professionals reaching out to fathers. Mark Williams was one of few, who really got our point across.
I have for you a short interview with Mark who is an author of three books, he’s campaigning for recognising the need for change in the perinatal mental health of fathers. He’s also co-founder and organiser of International Fathers Mental Health Day
Why we should pay more attention to men’s/father’s mental health as society, and as professionals?
First the biggest killer in men under 50 is suicide in the UK and that’s recorded which we know it’s far higher due to the stigma of suicide and how men many father’s choose to hide it.
We are also finding that men are if often never diagnosed with PND or PTSD during the perinatal period as not all new father’s are screened for their mental health.
If you could describe in a few words your journey, what do you want to achieve and what’s driving you to do what you do?
First, i don’t want anyone to go through what Michelle and myself has been through in around two years altogether. Second , I want policies to include fathers and I am pushing The World Health Organisation doesn’t recommend screening of new mums for their mental health but not father’s when there are over 600,000 male suicides globally each year including dad’s.
Recently you have published your book – Fathers and Perinatal Mental Health- can you tell a bit more about this publication?
Yes it’s been a journey and it’s now my second published book with my mentor Dr Jane Hanley which is for professionals and my first book is called Daddy Blues which is a memior about the struggles and to give people hope that you will get out of depression.
What’s your take on fatherhood today?
Harder than ever and I’m lucky I’ve only started using social media to raise awareness but the pressures today are far higher with this urge for perfection when no family is perfect and if they were than we have to questions why as we all make mistakes and that’s why I am were I am today.
What’s your advice to fathers-to-be?
Talk to anyone about your mental health if you’re struggling. Don’t suffer in silence like I did until it hit crisis point.
As Father and Child Wellbeing Worker, I can see an increase in mental health conditions amongst fathers in the UK – what changes in your opinion should be addressed in terms of NHS and support systems in our country?
We need to “think family” and with more stay at home dad’s, single dad’s and same gender couples we have to change with the times. We need to encourage skin to skin with dad’s and realise like mums dad’s have a history of anxiety depression and traumas before becoming a parent.
Finish sentence: depression and fatherhood are…?
causing a big impact on the whole family if unsupported and resulting in relationships to end when if we support all parents for their mental health it has far better outcomes for the whole family.