Dads in the spotlight for Men’s Health Week
While there are many services and programs which focus on birth, baby and toddler care and mothers’ mental health, the same level of support for dads “has always been difficult to find”, a representative from Tweddle has highlighted, noting the importance of ensuring Dads are supported, in light of the upcoming Men’s Health Week, held 15 – 21 June.
Early fatherhood is a critical life stage, Tweddle noted, and a potentially stressful time that can increase men’s risk of poor mental health. One in 10 fathers of young children in Australia experience poor mental health however research demonstrates that fathers are ‘very open’ to help at this time, and want to be asked about their mental health by health professionals and other supportive sources, such as early childhood education and care (ECEC) services.
Barriers that prevent dads from seeking parenting support in the early years include being impacted by stigma about mental health, inflexible and long work hours and services that are only available during business hours.
The Working Out Dads program offered by Tweddle addresses all of those barriers.
Working Out Dads is a free 6 week after-hours therapeutic parenting program for dads, held in fitness centres. The program features facilitated discussion and exercise, handouts and text messages. Themes cover parenting, relationships, mental health, fitness and well-being.
The objective of Working Out Dads is to connect, support and strengthen the capacity of dads in the very early years of parenting. There is also a goal to become less isolated and more resilient and supportive during the transition to early parenting and to promote healthy lifestyle choices.
Working Out Dads participants have revealed that there was a sense of relief that there were resources and support out there that they didn’t know anything about and that other dads were going through the same thing.
Many of the fathers participating in the program said that while Mums are “pretty good” at building a network of support, particularly with ‘mothers’ groups which make the trials of early parenting seem normal, dads didn’t get that opportunity and that Working Out Dads was one way of “building that network of fathers that you can lean on for advice.”
Tweddle has now delivered 17 Working Out Dads programs across Melbourne’s west, with feedback from fathers noting that the program has helped to reduce stress, improve health and relationships and increase parenting confidence.