Supporting dads and partners in the perinatal period – Ask the Experts by Experience

Following the success of our previous Experts by Experience blog, we are marking International Fathers Mental Health Day with the next in our series co-created by our experts by experience group.

We know that 1 in 10 dads will experience depression, and suicide rates are highest for men under the age of 45.

In a 2018 survey, Fathers Network Scotland found that only 16% of dads were asked about their mental health during routine antenatal appointments. 

They also launched a follow-up survey into the experiences of dads during lockdown.

Here are some things to think about when talking to, and about dads in services and service development.

Remember dad is an asset!

I’ve had 2 children and both times felt like I was a spare part. I wished I’d been seen as someone having a baby and been included. Whilst I agree some men need to step up and come forward, there isn’t always the impression that the health professionals want Dads there or see us as an asset. To me it’s the whole family having the baby… although I know mums are central to it!Expert by Experience – Dad

Don’t assume that dad is OK – ask, “how are you dad?”

“My husband  actually has had huge mental health issues around what happened in labour too which no one ever asked him about until the PMH midwife in our second pregnancy.”Expert by Experience – Mum

If a woman experiences a traumatic birth, or needs to access specialist mental health treatment, please consider how her partner might feel, having witnessed the mother of their child in a very vulnerable and difficult situation. Are there services available to help with this?

Are there services to refer on to?

Consider signposting partners to mental health services within your health board. If there aren’t any, please be an ally, and advocate for improvement.

It may be that there are charity sector services that can help dads in the perinatal period, such as Dads Rock in Edinburgh and Home Start Glasgow South. There is a map of available dad-friendly services here.

Fathers Network Scotland offer Understanding Dad training to help improve services for dads and partners in Scotland.

Thanks to our Experts by Experience for your insights, and to all those who support dads at this time.

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