A new research survey has found that 95% of dads feel they need more support for their mental health.
The survey (link at bottom of page) was undertaken by men’s mental health campaigners Scott Mair and Mark Williams, and surveyed 261 participants about their stress levels during the perinatal period and how involved they felt as a dad.
High levels of stress in parents
261 participants completed the survey, which shows alarming levels of poor mental health in the responses.
82% reported feeling stressed, anxious or depressed during the perinatal period. However, 78% of parents were never asked about their well-being by any health professionals seen at appointments. Potential chances for earlier intervention and support are missed, therefore, which could help avoid a later crisis for dads.
The findings are particularly concerning considering that dads fall into the highest risk of suicide group- men aged 21-48. Previous research studies have shown that fathers in the perinatal period are also 47 times more likely to commit suicide.
67% also said they are still struggling with their mental health long after becoming a parent.
‘I want recognition that we are not secondary in the parenting process’
The survey also highlighted how dads and birthing partners can often feel neglected during the pregnancy, birth and baby process.
A massive 51% felt uninvolved or left out during antenatal appointments. One commented that they wanted ‘acknowledgment from healthcare professionals that dads even exist. There were so many appointments where I wasn’t looked at and was actively ignored even when I asked questions.’
Another said that they wished for ‘respect from the medical community – I felt like a sperm donor rather than a father.’
The impact of ignored dads
Previous research shows that struggling dads are less likely to read, sing songs or tell stories to their babies. This impacts the bond between father and child.
Respondents to the survey also commented that the strain of full time work and parental responsibility needs more recognition in general.
One suggested that ‘2 weeks paternity leave is pathetic to bond with a new child’. Another commented that ‘a lot of focus is on the birthing partner and rightly so, but it’s isolating and lonely.’
Many also felt that proper recognition of postnatal depression in dads is needed, along with support from health services and employers.
What could help?
The survey showed that men feel they would benefit from a variety of resources. These, they suggested, could include online support, information, education and support groups.
The responses also showed that dads want to be actively engaged with during the process of becoming a parent by health services, and supported with their well-being.
To read the survey, click here.
Further advice and support
If you recognise your own experiences in the results of the survey, there are a number of ways to chat to others or get support. These include:
To talk to other dads, join our friendly forum