St Helens dad battled with post-natal depression after birth of first child

A new dad from Merseyside has explained how he battled with post-natal depression following the birth of his first child.

Barrie Palfry from Haydock, St Helens, struggled to bond with his daughter and says he did not receive help because he is a man.

He said, "It's not easy being a new father, especially if you're working all day, then looking after the baby when you get home. It's exhausting but dads often feel they have to get on with things and, if you've got a problem, bottle it up."

Barrie now volunteers as a peer supporter to help other fathers with similar perinatal mental health issues.

He added, "I could feel myself going downhill and felt useless, couldn't bond with my daughter, couldn't function. I even felt suicidal at one point.

"Someone at work noticed how low I was and gave me the opportunity to get everything off my chest. Someone listened to me when I was at my lowest and so I'd like to give something back. I understand how it feels to get that low."

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) is calling for more recognition of mental health issues amongst new fathers.

The charity set up Parents in Mind: Partners in St Helens to support everyone who has an active role raising a child under two, including dads, mums' partners or other family members.

Volunteers like Barrie are trained to tackle the stigma and offer help to men who need it following the birth of their children.

Stockshot of a father with his baby Credit: Annette Riedl/DPA/PA Images

Project Manager Catherine Briars said: "We want to highlight how common new dads' mental health problems are and encourage men not to suffer in silence.

"Becoming a parent is an emotional rollercoaster, bringing with it significant mental health challenges. We want all parents to feel safe sharing these difficulties - knowing that you are 'not alone' can bring so much relief.

"The dads in the group have been awe-inspiring: honest, courageous and resilient and will be great supporters of local fathers. It's important we sow the seeds of this work more widely, and develop support for more parents across the UK."

NCT research previously found that more than 1 in 3 new fathers were concerned about their mental health and almost three quarters of dads were worried about their partner's mental health.

The charity says that it is unlikely that these figures have improved during the pandemic.

NCT says it already highlights fathers' mental health issues on its antenatal courses and at reunion sessions.