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International Father’s Mental Health Day

As a big advocate for the channels of communication always being open between dads and their families, friends and partners, I have been reading up on dads’ mental health. It has given me a new perspective on a subject that is certainly not talked about enough, especially when you consider the numbers involved. A survey by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) in 2015 found that about one in three dads reported concern about their mental health. Yet there is no requirement for routine mental health screening for new fathers.

Postnatal depression can develop in parents after their baby is born and is a very common problem for new and experienced parents alike. For a very long-time postnatal depression in women went undiagnosed and unacknowledged. As a result, many women suffered through this challenge alone without any legitimate support from a doctor or support group, and perhaps not even feeling they could talk about it with their partner or friends. What a terrible situation. Let’s not continue to make the same mistake with dads.

The first thing we need to challenge is the assumption that dads can’t get postnatal depression because it is purely hormonal. It isn’t. It’s much more complex, based on an individual’s experience, psychology and history which come into play on top of the stresses of being a new parent.  There are multiple factors that can lead to it. For example, being a dad aged 25 or younger, having a partner that is suffering from it, having a history of depression and/or anxiety and not being in a relationship with the child’s mother are all potential factors – but this list is not exhaustive and you may have all of these factors and still not experience postnatal depression.

I believe that postnatal depression in dads needs to be recognised on a wider basis and every single dad needs to know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Everybody needs support.

And there is support out there.

Father’s Reaching Out is a website dedicated to dads and mental health, and the dad behind it, Mark Williams, has a powerful story, which you can watch here: His website is here:

The hashtag #howareyoudad is used to raise awareness and spark conversations about dad’s mental health in the period around childbirth.

The website From Dads to Dads offers informative articles and advice as well as forums and other support where dads can really have the opportunity to interact and talk to dads who’ve been through exactly the same problems.

The NCT has a list of 10 things everyone should know about postnatal depression in dads:

Remember dads, we’re here to support each other. If you need help, ask for it. If you’re worried that another dad, or your partner, may be suffering from postnatal depression, reach out to them.  As parents, we’re in this together.

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D-Day: My Granddad Teddy’s Experience

76 years ago yesterday my granddad, Teddy Williams, took part in the D Day landings. A Guernsey man, he joined up in June 1940 with five of his colleagues from the Guernsey Press . They caught the Glen Tilt (it was ferrying men of fighting age to the mainland to sign up) to Weymouth , from where they were taken to Portland Barracks. My granddad joined the Cornwall Light Infantry, took the oath and received 3s and 6d.

By the time of the Normandy landing he had already seen action as a Desert Rat and the invasion of Sicily. In fact, he nearly never made it to Normandy at all as the American naval vessel that was carrying him from Folkestone to Juno Beach was accidentally rammed by a British destroyer, HMS Warspite. They lost one of the ramps in the incident, meaning my granddad and his fellow troops had to scramble ashore as best they could. In haste my granddad jumped in to what he thought was shallow water but it actually came over his head. He tried to swim up and couldn’t because of the weight of his kit. Then he felt a hand on his back and he was lifted up until he was able to find his footing and scramble up the beach. He never knew who helped him that day.
By this time, the troops in the first landing managed to fight their way up the beach and were penetrating inland. This gave my granddad and the other Pioneers the chance to establish petrol dumps ashore. The fuel was ferried by amphibious vehicles from vessels standing offshore.
Granddad and his unit landed on Juno Beach and were attached to Canadian troops who he followed through to Hamburg. Every night, Canadian trucks would travel to the front lines to recover the dead, and the bodies were brought to where the Pioneers had set up a moving base. The corpses were unloaded and the vehicles refuelled.
He later received a medal for being one of the thousands of troops engaged in the first 20 days of the invasion.

And how do I know such detailed information? Characteristically of those who served in the war, granddad never really spoke about it. In 2004 though, to mark the 60th Anniversary of D-Day, my granddad’s old employer, the Guernsey Press, wrote an article about him. He sent a copy to each of his daughters (my mum Ann and my auntie Barbara) and across the top he wrote “thought you might like to see this.” I am holding that paper in my hands now granddad and I just want to say a sincere thank you to you – and all of those involved on that day. You changed the world.

— Last Uploaded 6th June 2013 —