It has been over a year and a half since COVID-19 became a household name. A pandemic was declared and the First Minister warned Scots that we were facing "the biggest challenge of our lives".
During the first lockdown dads stepped up to be much more hands-on with their children, almost doubling the number of hours they took care of their children, on average.
As we lived through the second national lockdown dads struggled to balance work and family life and their mental health deteriorated. On the plus side the number of hours a dad spent playing with their children or supporting their learning had increased, as had their determination to spend more time with their kids in the future.
As we make sense of what has happened over the last 18 months and come to terms with the seismic shifts in our society we wanted to find out what life is like for dads out of lockdown.
"I feel pressure from work, pressure from my partner to be more involved which conflicts with my work, pressure to help her more, pressure from myself to be a good dad."
Earlier in the year, 52% of dads we surveyed told us that balancing work and family was challenging or very challenging. 69% said their mental health or wellbeing has deteriorated. The results of the FNS 2020 and 2021 surveys provided invaluable feedback that has inspired further exploration of fathers’ experiences of COVID-19.
Kelsi Moran, a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh, is working with FNS to learn more about the effects of the pandemic on dads through survey research.
Find the survey here.
This week started with International Fathers’ Mental Health Day, and Fathers Network Scotland is celebrating the announcement of a new initiative to support men at risk of becoming socially isolated following the global pandemic. Movember, a global men’s health charity, will be investing a total of AUD $3.54 million into 11 projects across Australia, Canada, the UK and Ireland, as part of the Movember’s Social Connections Challenge. One of those projects is Fathers Network Scotland’s men’s mental health app, sponsored by the Mr Porter 'Health In Mind' fund.
Men at risk of becoming socially isolated following the global pandemic will be able to access new ways of receiving support for their mental health, thanks to Movember.
The global men’s health charity has announced that they will be investing a total of AUD $3.54 million into 11 projects across Australia, Canada, the UK and Ireland, as part of the Movember’s Social Connections Challenge.
One of those projects is Fathers Network Scotland’s men’s mental health app.
The start of 2021 saw Scottish families once again stepping into a world of staying at home, school closures, home-schooling, video communication and social isolation. For many, the second national lockdown brought fresh challenges. We were - or are - exhausted; Stepping outside for a walk became a whole lot less inviting in the depths of winter; The novelty of home schooling and video wore off very quickly; The prospect of not seeing friends and family - those support networks many of us rely on - became almost unbearable.
Each year Fathers Network Scotland asks families in Scotland about how they're doing. Last year we surveyed dads about their experiences of the first lockdown. 64% told us their mental health had suffered. But there was some very positive feedback too: 60% of dads said lockdown had positively impacted on their relationships with their children and over half told us that they wanted to change the way they parent in future.
We wanted to find out about the impact of the second lockdown, so that we can work and campaign for the issues that matter most to you, your families and your children.
We are excited to announce that you will be seeing a whole lot more of two faces, who are very familiar to the whole Fathers Network Scotland community. Our current Programme Manager Cathy Sexton and Programme Lead Chris Miezitis are to become interim Co-Directors of the organisation, as we bid a fond farewell to our outgoing Director Dave Devenney.
At 4pm yesterday I had scheduled in a Zoom chat with my family down south. It had been a shocker of a day. The last thing I felt like doing was talking through all the ways I felt I had failed, but I'm so glad I made the call.
Over the past two years Fathers Network Scotland's main focus has been on dads' mental health, and how services can better support them. At a time of heartbreakingly high levels of male suicide in Scotland, there is growing concern within the sector about the lack of mental health provision and inclusion for new dads, dads-to-be & partners.
Without the option to work flexibly, I would not be writing this blog. I would have had to give up on a vocation after years of learning and grafting, in order to be a mum. I always wanted to have children, so if we were lucky enough to have them, I was prepared to choose family over my career. Although there have been compromises, I am one of the fortunate ones to have found a progressive, forward-thinking, supportive organisation who recognises its employees are both passionate about their work and passionate about their children (and neither detracts from the other).
Each year Fathers Network Scotland asks families in Scotland about how they're doing. During 2020 we have been living through interesting and often challenging times. Therefore this time, our anonymous survey has captured a snapshot of what life has been like for dads during lockdown.