Having had a career as an infantry soldier, going into fatherhood I thought I would be able to handle any situation and cope with it. Being ex-military, my views on mental health were probably very extreme because I felt like I was programmed to be a certain way. It’s this ‘pain is weakness leaving the body’ ‘mindset’ that makes me cringe now, but that’s the way I was used to thinking as a soldier. This all changed after traumatic events during the birth of my sixth child my wife and son nearly died due to complications during labour and afterwards I suffered with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and anxiety.
The impact of birth trauma on paternal mental health is something I was completely unprepared for and something I did not realise that affected men. When I started experiencing these mental health problems myself, I didn’t understand it. When I was struggling with my mental health in the perinatal period, I did not know what was wrong and there seems to be a complete lack of awareness on the subject in general.
Seeing another dad, Mark Williams, speak out publicly on this topic was a real turning point for me. That was when I began to understand the need for fathers to seek support if they are struggling. When I couldn’t find this support, I decided to set up my own supportive Instagram account called PMH support (Paternal Mental Health support). Through this account I try to promote the importance of acknowledging paternal mental health while also offering parenting hints and tips I have picked up over my 18 years of parenting! I believe that hearing other dads speak out on this topic is important, the more we talk and communicate, the more dads will feel included in the conversation.
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