17th June 2022
In support of International Fathers’ Mental Health Day (20 June), we are delighted to share a Voices Blog by Maggie Fisher, iHV Professional Development Officer, and Hilda Beauchamp, iHV Perinatal & Infant Mental Health Lead to introduce a new suite of resources to support fathers and healthcare professionals working with fathers.
Dads are the second largest cohort of parents after mums. However, despite a plethora of evidence around the benefits to their babies, their partners and themselves when they are involved and well-supported during the perinatal period, many dads still report feeling ignored by health professionals and have the impression that services are not really designed for them.
“Three times I have supported my partner through the maternity process, and each time I have felt like a spare part.”
Evidence suggests that around 1 in 10 dads will experience perinatal mental health issues, with increased rates up to 1 in 2 if their partner is also suffering, so it is imperative that GPs, midwives, health visitors and other healthcare professionals involved with the family take time to ask dads how they are feeling and offer the right support at the earliest opportunity.
Dad Matters UK has been working closely with iHV as part of the Interreg 2Seas PATH project to develop a suite of short films with top tips for healthcare professionals on how best to engage with Dads, effective use of social media, and what constitutes a good father-inclusive pathway. Simple reminders are suggested like:
- ‘AAA’ (always ask again) – this might prompt a health visitor to ask, ‘How are you really?’ when a Dad initially replies ‘I’m okay’.
- Providing facts and evidence-based resources around brain development or baby states, and giving dads space to absorb the information and see it play out in practice will lay a good foundation for any further support they might need.
- ‘Information & education before intervention’ – a helpful mantra to ensure that dads are offered details of services like men’s talking groups, adult mental health services or parent-infant services, including what sort of support these services might offer and how dads can make contact to find out more.
To celebrate International Father’s Mental Health Day on 20 June, the iHV has worked with the PATH Partnership and Dad Matters UK to produce a suite of new resources for healthcare professionals. These new materials will help organisations and practitioners reflect on how they can best provide father-inclusive services
Please take a look at the links below:
For healthcare professionals:
“The Health Visitor asked me how I was. I wasn’t expecting it, especially after the difficult labour my partner experienced. It felt good, like I mattered, and was being listened to”
Maggie Fisher, iHV Professional Development Officer
Hilda Beauchamp, iHV Perinatal & Infant Mental Health Lead