The latest articles and ideas from Inspiring Scotland and our partners.
Monday 20th June marks International Father’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Earlier this year, the Inspiring Scotland PIMH team alongside Scottish Government hosted an online event: Perinatal Peer Support Scotland. The aim of the session was to recognise the contribution of peer support workers; showcase good practice and highlight the role of peer support and how it can complement clinical services.
One of three sessions focused on Peer Support for Dads. This session was chaired by Douglas Guest from Home-Start and the panelists included: Chris Miezitis from Fathers Network Scotland; Greg Borthwick from Dads Rock; and Doug Marshall from Home-Start Glasgow South.
Participants reflected there is a stereotype that dads and men don’t want to talk. Chris from Fathers Network Scotland stated that this is a myth, and that dads do want to share their feelings and be included. It was suggested that when trying to get dads to engage, it is important to provide dads with the appropriate space to allow them to talk freely. It is also important to take into account potential barriers that are preventing dads from engaging with services such as cultural stereotypes and systematic barriers.
It was pointed out that throughout the peer support event, the word dad or father was rarely referenced, and that nearly all images used in perinatal services only feature women. This can further isolate dads. Participants raised thatdads want to be an asset to the development of their child, and are therefore keen to be heard and supported. It is important to break down damaging stigmas and realise that men want to be involved in their children’s lives; having a well-supported dad results in a better supported family.
Frequently, dads feel excluded from perinatal services and may feel intimidated by the current services that are on offer. It was suggested that having peer support workers who have lived experience is a powerful and effective means of encouraging dads to engage with services. It was stated that lived experience should be front and centre of any peer support work. Greg from Dads Rock said that it can be tempting to replicate services that are tailored for mums, however he argued that this is ineffective as men face different issues and challenges in the perinatal period. This confirms the importance of including lived experience as it allows the services to be designed with dads needs in mind.
It was clear from the group discussion that dads can face a great deal of stigma and may be reluctant to utilise available services offering support. This highlights how powerful it is to have lived experience involvement in the design and delivery of services to make support as accessible and relevant as possible.
Monday 20th June marks International Father’s Mental Health Awareness Day, where we will be talking about how up to 10% of dads experience mental health challenges in the perinatal period.
For more information and how you can access support, please visit Father’s Network Scotland’s website: https://www.fathersnetwork.org.uk/
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