When Joe* became a dad to twins he found it hard to cope. “I found that increased pressure and responsibility daunting,” he said. “I struggled with the changes and questioned my ability to do well at this new ‘job’.”
It’s a common issue, with one in 10 new fathers experiencing depression. But a new service is giving Sutton dads the space to focus on their wellbeing. Fathers-to-be – and dads at all stages of their lives – are being invited to the join specialist workshops where they can pick up practical tips and connect with other parents.
This service is set up with new dads in mind to offer support, guidance and friendship to those in a similar position.”
According to Sutton GP Dr Naomi Bennett: “Many dads have told us they would value more practical support on every aspect of parenting, as most of the information is targeted at mums. Sometimes they can feel sidelined and overwhelmed by the sudden change in their life and relationships.
“Meeting other dads and learning about all these issues will empower them to feel more involved. Support at this crucial time is so important for their future mental health and their children’s emotional development.”
Sutton Uplift will host the first workshop at the borough’s family hub. Subjects covered will include:
- Sharing experiences and emotions.
- Dealing with stress.
- Adapting to life with a new baby.
- Building your resilience so you will bend to the pressures of life and not break.
- Experience techniques to relax and refresh you.
Family hub coordinator Claire Borg said: “All dads are welcome to the sessions, not just new ones. We are hoping this is going to be the first of many courses and are looking at running workshops on first aid and introducing solid food. We are keen to hear what other issues dads want covered for future sessions.”
Meeting other dads and learning about all these issues will empower them to feel more involved. “
A stay and play session aimed at male carers is also held at the Amy Johnson Children’s Centre, Wallington on the second Saturday of the month from 10.30am to 12 noon. Those taking part in the meetups have welcomed these sessions and appreciate having the time to bond with their children and share advice with other dads.
Awareness of the importance of mental health in new fathers is increasing, as research finds out more about the number of men who develop depression at this time, and its impact on them and their families.
Evidence shows that depression in new fathers can harm parental relationships and the emotional, behavioural and social development of children. It can also lead to child mental health problems later on. Children progress better socially and academically; have fewer behaviour problems, and improved language skills when their father plays an active part in their lives at these early stages.
The next dads’ workshop on Saturday 23 September from 10am to 12 noon at the Sutton Family Hub in the Central Library, St Nicholas Way, Sutton SM1 1EA.Find out more about the course and book
You can also watch a YouTube video on the course from Sutton Uplift.
*Not his real name