A DAY dedicated to raising awareness of fathers' mental health will take place after the UK celebrates its dads.

Bournemouth campaigner Dr Andrew Mayers is highlighting the third annual International Father's Mental Health Day on Monday, June 17. In December 2018, the government announced that men whose wife or partner had been referred to perinatal mental health services would now be screened to assess if they too need support. This change, led by NHS England, was influenced by evidence that fathers are more likely to need support for their own mental health if their partner has experienced difficulties.

And in January, the NHS Long-Term Plan was launched, which included proposals to support fathers’ mental health. Mark Williams, who helped found International Father's Mental Health Day, and Dr Mayers have been appointed to an expert reference group to advise NHS England on what those services should look like.

Mark 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. The day is to raise awareness and educate professionals and family members that dads struggle as well as mums during this time. "Many men have a past history of anxiety, depression and trauma before becoming a parent and by supporting all parents it has a far better outcome for everyone including the development of the child."

Dr Mayers said: “The success we have seen in recent months is encouraging, but we cannot stop there. We need to see comprehensive changes across the UK, not just England. We also need to ensure that the changes that are made will make a real difference. We will hold governments and NHS providers to account to see that promises are kept.

“We also need to reinforce that we are not looking at fathers in isolation, or at the expense of mothers. Both Mark and I will continue the work we have always done to look after mums too. This is about the entire family.”

Read Dr Mayers’ web page for fathers’ mental health at www.andrewmayers.info/fathers-mental-health.html

Or visit Mark’s website at www.reachingoutpmh.co.uk/