Welsh Labour MP for Ogmore, Chris Elmore, has highlighted the “truly shocking” new research that has been published concerning the suicide rate among fathers.
On World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September), local campaigner, Mark Williams has published a new report setting out the issues facing paternal mental health over the past decade.
Partly influenced by UK fathers’ mental health campaigners, in January 2019 NHS England announced that, for the very first time, fathers whose partners were accessing specialist perinatal mental health services would now be screened for their own mental health. While this is a positive step, much more support is needed.
Currently, the World Health Organisation sets out no information on paternal mental health and the UK NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) Guidelines CG192 Antenatal and postnatal mental health: clinical management and service guidance focus solely on women.
The new report calls for the following action to be taken:
· more research into specific areas of concern
· improved engagement and involvement of dads by healthcare professionals throughout the perinatal period
· introduction of appropriate methods of mental health screening of partners during the perinatal period
· greater availability of support groups and specialist services across the country
· investigation of ways in which employers can support new dads throughout the perinatal period
Chris Elmore MP said:
“The suicide rates that we see among fathers and other young men are really troubling. We must do much, much more to get to grips with this issue and ensure that everyone has support when they need it.
“Mark Williams’ new report makes for difficult reading but it’s vitally important that this work is taken forward. I really commend him for shining a light on these issues.”
Local campaigners on fathers’ mental health, Mark Williams, said:
"The biggest killer in men under 50 is suicide and many fathers don't get asked about their mental health during the antenatal and postnatal period. I hope that this report will raise awareness amongst health professionals, educators, parents and families – as well as with MPs, the Department of Health and Social Care, and NHS Commissioners.
“We want an acknowledgement that dads – as well as mums – struggle during the perinatal period. Many men will have a past history of anxiety, depression and trauma before becoming a parent, but many others will not, yet all are susceptible. Supporting all parents will lead to far better outcomes for everyone, including in particular the child.
“We also need to reinforce that we are not looking at fathers in isolation, or at the expense of mothers. While I will continue the work we have always done to look after mums, too, this is about the mental health of the entire family, and about recognising the importance and impact of early prevention measures.”