The Entire Family Benefits
International Father’s Mental Health Day is about making a difference for the whole family
Today (June 22nd) is International Father’s Mental Health Day 2020 (IFMHD), and the occasion is being marked by a series of online global events.
This is the fourth year of the event, founded in 2016 by mental health activist Mark Williams in the UK and Dr Daniel Singley in the USA. Since then it has grown into an annual multinational event which has helped to drive awareness and understanding of the importance of fathers’ emotional wellbeing, both to the men themselves and to their children and partners.
The campaigning is already producing results. Partly influenced by UK campaigns for fathers’ mental health, in January 2019 NHS England announced that, for the very first time, some fathers would now be screened for their mental health.
Of course the coronavirus pandemic and its implications are close to the top of the agenda this year. Lockdown has affected the lives of everyone but has had unique consequences for households welcoming new babies to the family, including fathers. The events will include some of those stories will being shared for the first time.
Another concern throughout Covid-19 has been how fathers are included in pregnancy and the birth. Research has shown repeatedly that when health professionals include fathers at every step of the perinatal period, the entire family benefits: the mother, the fathers, and the infant. Some of that evidence has driven positive changes in clinical practice. Despite that, across many parts of the UK as the pandemic developed, there have been cases where fathers have been excluded from antenatal appointments and even the birth itself.
IFMH20 will also be a springboard for a new set of campaigns. Mark Williams said “The biggest killer in men under 50 is suicide and many fathers don’t get asked about their mental health during the antenatal and postnatal period. The day is to raise awareness and educate professionals and family members that dads struggle as well as mums during this time. Many men have a past history of anxiety, depression and trauma before becoming a parent and by supporting all parents it has a far better outcomes for everyone including the development of the child”
Dr Andrew Mayers of Bournemouth University added: “The success we have seen in recent years is encouraging, but we cannot stop there. We need to see comprehensive changes across the UK, not just England. We also need to ensure that the changes that are made will make a real difference. We will hold governments and NHS providers to account to see that promises are kept.”
“We also need to reinforce that we are not looking at fathers in isolation, or at the expense of mothers. Both Mark and I will continue the work we have always done to look after mums too. This is about the entire family.”
You can read more about this work on Dr Mayers’ web page for fathers’ mental health http://www.andrewmayers.info/fathers-mental-health.html
Mark Williams’s website can be found at http://www.reachingoutpmh.co.uk/
More information can be found on IFMHD webpage: https://www.postpartum.net/news-and-blog/ifmhd/