I created the Nourish app after struggling with my mental health & wellbeing in parenthood, both as a new mum and in juggling the stresses of work and mothering. But I was not the only one in our household that struggled with that enormous transition into parenthood.
Becoming a new parent comes with biological, psychological, and emotional changes for both parents, not just mothers. Official figures state 1 in 10 new dads struggle with mental health issues. However Canadian research published this year, found nearly 1 in 4 fathers experienced both anxiety and depression at some point during their children’s first year.
“Becoming a new parent is a hugely transitional time for both parents and both are required to make many adjustments in their lives. If one parent’s mental health is compromised, it is going to have an impact on their partner. It is also going to have an impact on the child. Dads or same sex partners can also develop postnatal mental health problems, either because of what the birth mother has been going through or indeed, through something independently. We need to look at all partners. The whole family unit is important.” - Dr Andrew Mayers, Perinatal Mental Health Specialist, Bournemouth University
“The pressures of fatherhood, especially for involved dads with full time jobs, is immense. There is suddenly a lot more work to do at home, a lack of sleep, a changing relationship with your partner and an expectation to keep performing at work. For some dads they will also have some financial worries and some dads will find it difficult to bond with their baby. In addition to this we have to consider that traditional ideas around masculinity means it’s often not safe or expected for men to share their concerns and seek help in difficult moments. This can all mean that many dads will suffer from poor mental health and not actually seek professional support for it. “ - Elliott Rae, Founder of MusicFootballFatherhood
Despite these enormous challenges on dads’ mental health, historically there has been a dearth of support available for fathers through the antenatal and postpartum period and beyond. The good news is, times are changing and there are a growing number of individuals and organisations working passionately in this area to open up the conversation and break the stigma around fathers’ mental health and provide much needed resources and support for dads. We wanted so shine a spotlight on some of these brilliant organisations and spread the word so more families get the support they need and deserve.
Looking back over the years, I wish both me and my partner had had much greater awareness of the impact that becoming a parent can have on on both mum's and dad's mental health. I wish we had had more open communication between us, and that we had explored and prioritised each other’s mental health needs more, from the very beginning. I wish there had been more easily accessible support available for both of us. If there had been, I think we could have supported each other more effectively, and it might have made it an easier ride for all involved!
So who are these brilliant organizations supporting dads?
Scott Mair of PMH Support offers emotional support and advice for new and expectant fathers, with a focus on mental health. He also offers peer support in one to one and group settings. This is all completely free for any father seeking help, or partner looking to know how to help dad.
Scott is a veteran, husband, dad to 7 boys and a perinatal mental health trainer specialising in father's mental health and cultural differences. He works with local NHS trusts delivering antenatal classes and with organisations, hospitals and charities around the country delivering training to HCPs and supporting new fathers with their mental health and transition into parenthood. Scott also campaigns for better support for all parents mental health along with screening and has set up multiple antenatal programmes for Fathers to help them be more involved and give the child the best possible outcome.
Dad Matters is a Home-Start project, supporting new dads and dads to be with attachment and bonding, mental health and accessing services through a layered approach to universal engagement, targeted peer support and one to one referrals. Their aim is provide babies with the best start to life, by reaching their dads with information and support that they may not receive elsewhere. Dad Matters offers peer support, information, education, events, one to one referrals and lots of universal engagement about being a dad.
"Being a dad is sometimes hard, and often we can find it difficult to identify the right information, access support and it can really affect our own wellbeing. This in turn impacts our families, and that’s why I am so committed to the work Dad Matters does.” - Kieran Anders, Operations Manager, Dad Matters
Dadvengers produce engaging and aspirational information and resources to support dads on their journey through fatherhood. They provide safe spaces where dads can talk about parenting and how it affects their mental health through blog posts, a podcast, live chats, Dad walks, meet ups, quizzes and more, all aimed at creating a community of supportive parents who make a conscious effort to improve the fatherhood experience for men and in turn improve family relationships and wellbeing.
The Dadvengers Podcast, sees celebrity guests share their own intimate experiences; the highs, the lows, their triumphs and their failures. By telling these stories, they hope it will inspire his listeners to share their own experiences. That way, they can all learn from each other and navigate the parenting journey together.
The Dadvengers website has a series of posts that talk about different aspects of mental health and how it affects those around us. From suffering with postnatal depression or supporting a partner with postpartum psychosis to the importance of self-care and looking after our children's mental health.
MusicFootballFatherhood is a parenting platform for men, is all about open conversations around fatherhood.
MFF creates content to support dads, this is in the form of blogs and podcasts where we have in-depth discussions with dads about identity, masculinity, loss and mental health.
They also hosts community events such as The Lodge (our monthly online sessions for dads) or Extra Time (our partnership events with football clubs). MFF also works with the NHS to help medical professionals support dads through the maternity process.
MFF Founder, Elliott Rae, has published a book called DAD: untold stories of fatherhood, love, mental health and masculinity which tells the stories of dads who have suffered with mental health challenges. Elliott also presented the BBC One documentary ‘Becoming Dad’ in January 2022 and is a media commentator on issues around fatherhood and mental health.
Ian Dinwiddy, of Inspiring Dads, helps HR Leaders support their new dads, enhancing gender equality at home and at work, improving well-being, performance and culture.
Ian Dinwiddy is a Coach and Mentor. He delivers coaching, presentations and workshops to innovative businesses who put supporting new dads at the heart of their gender equality strategy, recognising the positive impact on equality and well-being of helping dads solve the challenge of “how to be a great dad WITHOUT sacrificing a great career.” An ex Management consultant, twice a stay at home dad and an English National League hockey umpire.
Mark Williams is Keynote Speaker, Author and International Campaigner for fathers' mental health. He is the founder of Fathers Reaching Out, an organization with a mission to prevent, treat and spread awareness about fathers’ mental health. Mark is also the founder of International Fathers’ Mental Health Day. Mark offers training, workshops, coaching, mentoring and consulting. He is also the author of the books: Daddy Blues and Fathers and Perinatal Mental Health: A Guide for Recognition, Treatment and Management.
Other great resources for Dads:
NHS: Dads Not alone
Sara Campin is mum of 2, life coach and founder of the Nourish app. Sara founded Nourish after the impact self-care had on her and her family’s wellbeing. Sara struggled with her mental wellbeing both as a new mum and in juggling the pressures of work and mothering and felt incredibly alone and unsupported in her struggles. Through the app she brings together a team of compassionate, empathetic, parental wellbeing experts to offer an accessible, multidisciplinary and relevant mental well-being toolkit and support team to parents in the UK and beyond.