Postnatal depression can affect men as well and according to a new study carried out by UK’s largest charity for parents – NCT – has found that more than a third of new fathers in the UK are concerned about their mental health.
The NCT says that it is now increasingly being recognised that postnatal depression and other perinatal mental health issues can be experienced by men as well. With increased pressures of fatherhood, need to spend more time at home, more financial responsibility, changes in relationships and lifestyle, and lack of sleep may all affect the mental wellbeing of a new dad.
If this wasn’t enough it has also been revealed that new fathers constantly worry about their partner with as many as 73 per cent of new dads surveyed confirming their constant worry about their partner’s mental health.
NCT says men should be encouraged and supported to speak up about their experiences, if not to their partner, then to their family, friends or GP. The parent charity has information and tips on its website (www.nct.org.uk) to help men find the support they need.
Dr Sarah McMullen, Head of Research, NCT, said: “We recognise the huge impact having a baby can have on dads as well as mums. Perinatal mental health issues can affect men or women so raising awareness of the specific concerns and questions that dads-to-be or new dads have is crucial. Dads sometimes feel uncomfortable about opening up about their feelings but we would encourage them to do so and seek the support they need.”
What does NCT recommend
The following suggestions might be useful to support positive mental wellbeing for all dads:
- Share your feelings with people you trust. This could be your family or friends, a health professional or a counsellor.
- Try to take some time for yourself by maintaining involvement in hobbies, exercise, or social activities, even an hour here or there can make a difference.
- Take some exercise each day, like a walk with the buggy or swimming. Exercise can have a positive effect on mood and sense of wellbeing.
- Although many new parents experience mood changes or feel down some of the time, you may find that feelings of anxiety or low mood persist. If you have concerns about your own or your partner’s mental health, it’s best to seek help from your GP who can help you to access support services.