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Why Dads Matter

Written by: Mark Williams, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

After witnessing my wife go through a traumatic birth and myself struggle in silence for years, I did not know anything about post-traumatic stress disorder from witnessing a traumatic birth after Michelle, my wife gives birth and postnatal depression in 2004. Yes, fathers have depression in the postnatal period as well, and there is a range of reasons why this can happen to all new parents.



Like some parents at risk, I had an undiagnosed disorder called ADHD and was diagnosed after hitting crisis at 40. If I was screened back, then I would have been diagnosed with PTSD and Postnatal Depression but did not know until I had a breakdown five years after my wonderful boy was born. Looking after my wife Michelle with serve postnatal depression can have an impact on your own mental health.


When it comes to postnatal depression symptoms, we now know with mothers, of course, all of the symptoms can happen to fathers as well.

  • A persistent feeling of sadness and low mood.

  • Loss of interest in the world around you and no longer enjoying things that used to give you pleasure.

  • Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time.

  • Trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day.

  • Feeling that you are unable to look after your baby.

  • Problems concentrating and making decisions.

  • Loss of appetite or an increased appetite (comfort eating)

  • Feeling agitated, irritable, or very apathetic (you "can't be bothered")

  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and self-blame.

  • Difficulty bonding with your baby with a feeling of indifference and no sense of enjoyment in their company.

  • Frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby; these can be scary, but they are very rarely acted upon.

  • Thinking about suicide and self-harm


The research tells us that 1 in 10 fathers suffer from postnatal depression (Paulson & Bazemore, 2010). When we have more fathers opening and screening is in place for all new parents, we will see the rates far higher. My work is never about taking the attention away from the mother, but when you support all new parents for their mental health, it has far better outcomes for the whole family and the child's development.


I did not get an overwhelming feeling of love for my little boy, but my bonding with him grew after giving up work for 6 months to care for my wife, who had severe postnatal depression. The skin-to-skin, which we should be encouraging fathers to do with their babies, helps with the bond and attachment.


I used alcohol to cope, but luckily, I had family support for my wife while I did not tell anyone - I was very unwell.


Research tells us perinatal mental health problems are 47 times more at risk of suicide than at any other time (Quevedo et al., 2010). So, with over 600,000 male suicides happening globally each year, we want The World Health Organisation, which does not recommend screening of new dads, only mums, to update their policies.


It is getting better! The simple way to explain it is that if there is no baby or pregnancy, that man would not be more anxious or depressed at that time otherwise. One in ten dads suffer, but we know it is higher as we do not really screen all parents yet.


I like to take a person-centered approach. It can be different for everyone, but definitely look out for personality changes in the antenatal and postnatal period with a potential increase in alcohol intake and avoiding situations. I have two published books that explain more: Daddy Blues (Memoir)and Fathers and Perinatal Mental Health with Dr. Jane Hanley.


I believe that something good has to come out of something so bad, and after everything in my life, I have a higher purpose to help fathers and campaign – as we now know, Dads do really matter!


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or visit my website for more info!


 

Mark Williams, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Mark Williams is a leader in mental health while coaching people to grow after trauma also to find purpose in their lives after their experience and support.


Williams is also Keynote Speaker, Author, Consultant, and International Campaigner. In 2004 he himself experienced depression and suffered in silence for years until he entered community mental health services.


He founded International Fathers Mental Health Day and how are you dad campaign to make sure all parents have support for the whole family, which has far better outcomes for the whole family and the child's development.


Williams has spoken on television and radio stations around the world while working with Doctor Jane Hanley, who have both published articles on Paternal Mental Health together.


Williams was awarded Inspirational Father of the year and local hero at the Pride of Britain Awards in 2012, even invited to meet The Royal Family on World Mental Health Day also awarded the Point Of Light Award by the Prime Minister in 2019.


Williams is a TEDx and Keynote Speaker and ambassador for Mother's Charity in the UK.

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