Dr Andrew Mayers
PhD, MBPsS, FRSA
Fathers' mental health
All too often, husbands and partners are overlooked when it comes to providing support and information on mental health. Evidence suggests that the risk factors, and impact, of perinatal mental health are reduced when mums have a supportive partner. Furthermore, fathers can develop 'perinatal mental health' problems (either as a result of their spouse's/partner's illness or independently). There is often little guidance available for men to understand the causes, risk factors, treatments and prognosis of perinatal mental illness, quite apart from what support they can give to their partner. Fathers also need information on how to improve their own mental health. On this page, you will find some resources that seek to address the gaps in support.
You can read the blog that I wrote for The Conversation (UK) here, suggested that dads can get postnatal depression.
We are running two studies at Bournemouth University currently: one focusing on asking dads how support they got (and need) when dealing with their wife/partner's (perinatal) mental illness; the second examining support fathers need for their own mental health.
Fathers need help supporting their wife/partner when she develops mental health problems
If your wife or partner experienced mental health problems during pregnancy and/or after the baby was born, we would like to hear about how you tried to support her, and about what resources were available to help you do that. To take part, please click on this link.
Fathers can develop mental health problems (independently) in the perinatal period
As a father, if you experienced mental health problems during your wife/partner's pregnancy and/or after the baby was born, we need to hear about what support you got. To take part in this study, please click on this link.
Fathers' experience of birth trauma
The impact of birth trauma on mental health (including the risk for post-traumatic stress disorder) can be devastating. Research with with mothers who have had a traumatic birth is still in it's infancy. However, until now, nothing has been done with fathers (who have witnessed that trauma). in 2017, we undertook some preliminary research at Bournemouth University. The results will be formally published soon. Initial data were presented at the #HopeNov20 event in Parliament on November 20th 2017. A further presentation will be made at a birth trauma conference in east London on January 5th 2018 (more details soon). Some publicity for that work was produced on YouTube and in local and national media.
Groups providing support for fathers
It can be a very scary time for a father to witness his partner/wife experience mental illness. It can be even more distressing when the mother is presenting with manic and/or psychotic symptoms. Action on Postpartum Psychosis provide some excellent resources to help partners. Expertly written, the resources have been developed in response to partners requesting help. You can access these resources here.
The Bluebell charity already provides excellent postnatal depression services in the Bristol area. Following some successful funding, Bluebell now also offer support to local fathers, via the Dads Zone. The service includes the opportunity to talk directly to a father whose partner experienced postnatal depression. Similar to Dads Matter UK, the guidance applies to fathers needing help on supporting their partner, and for those needing support for their own mental health.
Every year. the day after Father's Day globally, we mark International Fathers' Mental Health Day (#INTFathersMHDay and #DadsMHDay on Twitter) This is run by the amazing Mark Williams in collaboration with Dr Daniel Singley (USA). I join in as much as I can. In 2017 #INTFathersMHDay occurred on June 19th). You can read my blog about that here. There are some other great blogs too, such as this one by Paul Sutcliffe).