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Ask Why – Does the NHS not provide support and information to Dads?

In May 2012 the Government made a series of pledges about maternity services. One of the key pledges was to support women suffering from postnatal depression.

But the new “Guidance for commissioners of perinatal mental health services “ fails to mentions the role of dads as carers, or that they too need the suport of mental health  services.



Fathers such as Mark Williams who set-up Fathers Reaching Out which aims to help men who suffer from perinatal mental illness and who are left responsible for caring for mums suffering from perinatal mental illness

Mark, a father whose wife had post-natal depression for two years launched a website for the partners of women who are going through the same illness.

“As a new father, it was very difficult. It was time for me to learn everything.

  • “It’s expected that ‘you are the man’ so you can manage.
  • “It’s never about how you are feeling, it was all about her.
  • “It didn’t matter what you did, nothing was good enough.

“I had to give up work for six months.

“There was the new baby, we had a new house and all the added other pressures that Michelle use to deal with and, most importantly, my wife’s illness.”

He added: “The isolation was the biggest thing I felt hard to cope with. How was I going to tell my friends if I didn’t understand myself?

  • “All I worried about was Michelle getting better.
  • “I think there is a stigma attached to mental health.
  • “I was exactly like the people who still say “how can you be depressed” – with mental illness, you can’t just snap out of it.”

Dr Alain Gregoire – says, “If you have botched surgery, you may be left with an unnecessary but permanent limp”, “These men suffer damage you can’t see. We don’t treat them, there is nothing for them and that is also a failure of the system.”

Mark was motivated to act after realising there was very little help, if any, for men in a similar position.


10% of dads suffer from the effects of postnatal depression, which in the UK would be approx. 70,000 dads but for them the NHS provides no care.

Telegraph Article : Father Just as Likely to Suffer Postnatal Depression

One of the key predictors of depression in fathers postnatally is that they did not plan the pregnancy. 

Relational factors between the couple are central to depression in either partner and professionals (and leaflets!) can find this hard to address. 

A leaflet for fathers would help them recognise depression in their partner and in themselves, and help them understand what to do about it.


The Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation provides a range of information leaflets and factsheets:


Tommy’s ‘Having a Healthy Pregnancy Guide’ includes a chapter on mental health and wellbeing covering feelings, anxiety:

Make sure you have the information you need to support yourself and your partner!


A recent survey by Netmums and the Royal College of Midwives found:

  • Only a third of mums (30%) were told about the possibility of depression by their midwife and only a quarter ((27%) reported being asked how they felt emotionally during their pregnancy.
  • Nearly three-quarters (74%) of those surveyed said it often took a few weeks or more likely a few months before they recognised they had a problem. 
  • Mums mainly (42%) turned to their husband or partner when they first talked about how they felt with only a third (30%) first mentioned it to a health professional.
  • Over a third of women who suffer depression during pregnancy have suicidal thoughts.

Click here for a summary of the Netmums Survey and Report