More than half of new dads in football study feel they have no support for their mental health

ITV Wales Reporter Issa Farfour meets the men transitioning to fatherhood and discussing mental health

More than half of new Dads surveyed in a football study feel they have no support for their mental health.

The Dads and Football project report by the Mental Health Foundation found very little support available for new dads as they face the challenges that entering fatherhood brings.

Father of three, Chris Lawrence, has enjoyed being a part of the project. He said: "Connecting over sport is something that I think is really positive.

The aim of the project is to bring dads together through their love of the game.

"For a lot of people there's a lot of natural connection over sport, particularly over football anyway, and having that opportunity to meet other dad's and that peer-to-peer support really, I think is what has benefitted the project."

Dads and Football, a two year project funded by the Wellcome Trust, in partnership with Cardiff City Football Club Community Foundation and Cardiff University’s National Centre for Mental Health, was created to support new dads in response to what it calls "the inadequate provision" that is currently available.

Initially taking the format of 5-a side football, bringing dads together through their love of the game, the football games were quashed due to the pandemic and quickly replaced by online peer support sessions.

Dads and players from Cardiff City including Will Vaulks, (an expectant Dad at the time), joined the groups to discuss how the life change had impacted them.

91 dads were also consulted on their views through an online survey.

Will, an expectant father, said: "I’ve learnt a lot from my involvement in the project. It was a pleasure speaking with those involved about their experiences as fathers, I found it really helpful for my preparations."

The survey found that 70% of dads want more information on what to expect when becoming a father

Jenny Burns, Associate Director for Wales at the Mental Health Foundation, said: "There is very little research undertaken on dads’ perinatal mental health and more generally, men’s life-changing transition to fatherhood.

"This is reflected in the lack of support currently available to them."

Jenny said the findings from Dads and Football show how much support is "wanted and needed by new dads."

She added: "The Mental Health Foundation wants the Welsh Government to recognise this gap, and to include perinatal mental health screening and support for both parents as part of midwifery assessments in their forthcoming mental health strategy.”

In response to the need expressed by dads, the Foundation teamed up with the Fatherhood Institute to create ‘Becoming Dad’, a useful guide for new dads containing the most up-to-date research and information, lots of practical tips, advice and signposts to many organisations that can help when various issues arise.

The Fatherhood Institute’s Dr Jeremy Davies, who wrote the Becoming Dad guide, said: "For far too long, fathers have been an afterthought in perinatal services, despite strong evidence of their huge impact on infant and maternal outcomes – and of the challenges they may themselves experience as they embark on their journeys into fatherhood.

"Men have a lot to do and think about as new dads, and they need more support. We’re delighted to have written Becoming Dad to help them on their way.”

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