International Fathers' Mental Health Day
Every year, the day after Fathers' Day globally, we mark International Fathers' Mental Health Day (IFMHD). The event was founded in June 2016 by Mark Williams (UK) and Dr Daniel Singley (USA). Since then, it has grown into a multi-national event, raising awareness about fathers’ mental health. The US team also includes Dr David Levine, a paediatrician based in New Jersey, who also has his own experience of living with postnatal mental health difficulties. Dr Bronwyn Leigh, Director of the Centre of Perinatal Psychology, leads from Australia. The African contribution is led by Linos Muvhu in Zimbabwe. The UK team is led by Mark Williams and myself, with great support from Dr Jane Hanley, a highly regarded health visitor based at Swansea University.
Across that day a series of blogs, stories, information and resources are shared by charities, support groups, health professionals, and families who have experienced the impact of poor mental health in fathers. The events are shared across social media platforms in addition to print and broadcast media. While the aim is to raise awareness, it is also important that these events contribute to real change. In recent years, evidence-based campaigning has influenced policy changes within NHS England for identifying fathers at risk.
IFMHD Website (Postpartum Support International)
Hashtags: #DadsMHDay #HowAreYouDad
For IFMHD 2020 (June 22nd), the team reflected on progress in the campaigns urging better support for fathers and highlighted new research that has been published. They also considered the impact that Covid-19 has had on the entire family. All of these points are addressed in my blog for 2020. The day was also marked by many friends and colleagues across the UK. Some of those blogs and other media are shared here, while others were posted by those groups and individuals themselves (but you can locate them on the social media platforms, using the hashtag #DadsMHDay). In terms of social media, the day was very successful again. There were over 12 million Twitter impressions for #DadsMHDay, involving 890 participants contributing 2685 tweets!
Suzanne Hodgson is a Lecturer in Nursing at Sheffield Hallam University. She is undertaking a PhD, focusing on 'Transition into Fatherhood'. Suzanne has contributed two blogs for IFMHD2020 'Dads and Covid' and 'Language Matters'.
Joshua Munn and Paul Worthington are CBT Therapists at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust. They have written this 'Fathers Blog'
Hannah Shalliker works for Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Wellbeing Service at Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Her IFMHD blog focuses on the services that they provide for fathers' mental health.
You can also check out my blog, focusing on the work that I have been involved with in the last year relating to fathers mental health.
These are just a few that I have posted. Do check #DadsMHDay and/or my Twitter feed @DrAndyMayers to see what other blogs have been posted throughout the day.
One of the most powerful, and popular, online events that day was brilliantly hosted by the Speakers Collective. It featured Mark Williams, Jo Love (a renowned mental health campaigner and blogger), Zac Newman (a mindfulness instructor and a recent dad of twins), and myself. We recorded the session through Zoom, which can now be viewed on Facebook Watch.
I was invited to join a Spotify podcast with my good friend Natasha Devon (an inspirational mental health campaigner), as part of her wonderful Staying Sane series (created as a platform to highlight major issues during Covid).
A new song
We are truly honoured to partner with accomplished performer Ollie Wade, as he releases his song 'Hero' for International Fathers Mental Health Day. He wrote this song when he saw how his own father was struggling with poor mental health. As Ollie says "I want 'Hero' to encourage us all to reach out to our Fathers and offer them support and a shoulder – should they need it. Remember, mental health issues are not a weakness, but an illness that can be managed - at whatever age." Ollie has written this overview about the song.
IFMHD 2019 (June 17th) had a busy programme of events. Mark Williams was part of a conference in Blackpool (organised by Better Start Blackpool). You can catch the Twitter conversation for that via #TalkingDads. The Twitter activity for #DadsMHDay was around 8 million impressions for that day alone. Our USA partner, Postpartum Support International shared this blog that I wrote for them.
IFMHD 2018 (June 18th) was another overwhelming success. On Twitter alone, the hashtag #DadsMHDay achieved over 15 million impressions, with over 300 tweets from 1000 participants. The Facebook Live session (with me interviewing a 'new' dad) has attracted over 2000 views. You can also read my blog for IFMHD 2018.