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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
Better Together

BSMHFT celebrates Father’s Day by sharing an important message 

Published: 14/06/2022

Becoming a parent at any time in your life can be the most magical experience, but it can also be one of the most challenging. For Father’s Day this year, BSMHFT are spreading awareness and support for the mental health needs of fathers in Birmingham and Solihull.

In most cases, many fathers find it difficult to talk about their feelings about parenthood and instead bottle them up inside. If you or your partner are struggling with perinatal mental health problems, you are not alone. In fact, one in five mums and one in ten new dads or partners experience difficulties. They can range from anxiety, low mood and depression to the more severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychosis.

Perinatal mental health problems are not a sign of weakness. Anybody can get mental health problems when having a baby, at any time of your life, irrespective of gender, age, culture, financial status, or social background. The sooner you get help, the sooner things will start to get better.

What are the signs?

The most common symptoms can include persistent feelings of sadness and low mood, poor concentration, feeling unable to cope, loss of interest in sex, tiredness, avoiding contact with people, change in appetite, loss of pleasure in normally enjoyed activities, unable to get out of bed, thoughts of suicide and/or harming self and/or the baby.

Anxiety symptoms can also include feeling persistently afraid, worried, nervous, on edge, detached, panicky. You may also find it hard to learn and apply the new skills and tasks of fatherhood and get into an effective routine, start to feel that the family would be better off without you, have frequent worries about the health and welfare of your partner and/or the baby, have persistent, intrusive and frightening thoughts that you or they might harm baby constantly think things like, "I'm a terrible father/parent/partner” or “Why am I not bonding with my baby?”.

What support is out there for me?

Don’t suffer in silence.

In addition to supporting your wife/partner it's very important that you recognise your own needs and take care of your own health. You are not being selfish in doing this. It would be impossible for you to look after your partner and your baby if you are struggling yourself. If you think that you may be becoming overly anxious or depressed, then it's very important that you speak to your GP. Be totally honest about how you are feeling. You won't be saying anything that they haven't heard before and the sooner you can get some help the sooner you can start the journey back to wellness.

For urgent support, please call the Birmingham and Solihull Urgent Mental Health Helpline on 0121 262 3555.

Referring yourself to a support service. 

Acacia Dads - If you live in Birmingham or Solihull, Acacia can offer you a range of support. Based in Birmingham, they provide a free and confidential support service for dads and partners who are affected by perinatal mental health problems either in a wife/partner or for themselves. Ring them today on 0121 301 5990 or click here to refer yourself to their service.

Testimonials from Acacia service users:

“I didn't know this support existed until my wife started using Acacia for mums. They recommend that I may be able to get support as well. Not invasive, you can provide as much or little information as you are comfortable with and really take it at your own pace. Just someone to talk to who understands from real life experiences.”

“I’ve been using Acacia for a couple of months now and I speak with my peer support worker Ben once a week. I find the service really beneficial in helping me through what is undoubtedly the toughest period of my life. Ben is happy to listen to me express all my concerns and share the experiences I am currently going through and then gives impartial advice and re-assurances. Not only do I get the benefits of having a conversation and an outlet to speak, Ben will also research topics that arise in our sessions and send me links to articles that provide more help and information. I can’t speak highly enough of the services that Acacia provide and I would recommend them to any dad who is going through or living with someone who has post-natal mental health issues.”

Acacia also created a Dads/Partners Perinatal Mental Health Survival Guide for those who would like to read a bit more about perinatal mental health, how it affects you and the services available to  support you.

National Mental Health Support available wherever you are.

  • Dads Matter UK provide support for dads worried about or suffering from Depression, Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) offer support to any man who is down or in crisis online, over the phone on 0800 58 58 58, or on webchat
  • OCD Action provide support and information to anybody affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and work to raise awareness of the disorder amongst the public and front-line healthcare workers
  • PANDAS is a community offering peer-to-peer perinatal mental health support for both parents, using telephone, social media and email
  • MIND One dad tells his story, accompanied with links to more information and advice