Big leap in dads reporting worse mental health with the juggle between work and family life a key driver
The latest lockdown has hit dads hard. New research from Scotland found 69 per cent of fathers said their mental health has deteriorated since the start of the year when the third lockdown began.
Juggling work and family life emerged as a key source of stress. Over half of those questioned said they found it a challenge to manage responsibilities at home and at work. These latest findings back up our own survey results from 2020.
The new research was carried out by Fathers Network Scotland. They are the group who piloted the country’s first project training midwives to talk to dads about their mental health. And they are calling for government to introduce more screening of dads mental health off the back of their findings.
The number of dads who rated their mental health as bad or very bad shot up by 14 per cent, compared to the last lockdown.
Over a quarter of dads reported their relationship with their partner had got worse. The proportion of fathers who said their relationship with their children had suffered doubled compared to the last lockdown to 22 per cent.
Fathers of toddlers, and those with children aged 9-12 – ie making the switch to secondary school – have been hardest hit.
Edinburgh dads group Dads Rock have set up a new Dads Talk service. It offers space for men to share their experiences. Dads Rock founder Thomas Lynch said that the first few sessions have thrown a wide range of topics. But certain themes have emerged. He said: “There is an expectation when you become a dad, you have to be the solid dependable rock. This makes it hard to be open and say you don’t know what you are doing or admit when you don’t feel good.
“This pressure is put on by the dads themselves but also by other people telling dads they have to hold it together to get through. This expectation has increased during the pandemic. Lockdown has been hard on everyone, all parents and especially mums but looking at what’s happened to dads we can see that it’s also been tough on many fathers.”
Chris Miezitis, Co-Director of Fathers Network Scotland said: “It’s significant that dads want to spend more time with their kids. That’s a positive from the lockdown, an open door to make changes in future. But there’s a stark difference in the number of dads saying their mental health is worse.
“We don’t yet know the long term effects on kids and there’s still a lack of available services. While there’s a strong movement of men supporting men through groups like Dads Rock, we need schools, midwives, services proactively talking to dads about mental health. Surveys like this support our calls for introduction of universal screening in Scotland for partners as well as for mums in that crucial first two years after babies are born.”