Understanding Paternal Mental Health Training

Our Understanding Paternal Mental Health Training will help you understand why new dads mental health is important and provide the tools to recognise and respond to dads struggling with poor mental health.

Understanding Paternal Mental Health Training

Why is understanding dad's mental health important?

Child health experts worldwide agree that the first 1,000 days, from the beginning of pregnancy through to the child’s second birthday, has more influence on a child’s future than any other time in their life.

Babies and young children rely on their parents and carers to give them the warm, nurturing care they need to grow. If parents experience mental health problems during the first 1,000 days it can affect the way they are able to bond with and to care for their child. This can have an impact on the child’s intellectual, emotional, social and psychological development.

The risk of mothers' experiencing poor mental health during the perinatal period is well understood and monitored by services. However poor mental health in dads is very often undetected and therefore unsupported. And yet we now know that at least one in eight new dads suffer from postnatal depression, with up to 45% of dads affected by postnatal stress and anxiety. This may impact on a dads ability to engage supportively both as a father and as a partner and limit  positive outcomes for his child, partner and family.

If we want to get it right for every child it’s important that practitioners are able to recognise if any new parent or carer is struggling with their mental health and help them access appropriate support.

To find out more or book a date, contact our trainer Chris Miezitis: 

[email protected]

Who is Understanding Paternal Mental Health Training for?

Web_images_600x31531.jpgThe interactive workshop is primarily aimed at professionals who work with families during the first 1,000 days of a child's life -  from the beginning of pregnancy through to the child’s second birthday. However if you work with families with older children and you think you would benefit please do contact us.

What should participants expect?

The Understanding Paternal Mental Health workshop is  a dynamic learning experience, using a mixture of large and small group discussion, interactive exercises and individual reflection (with no role play!).

Learn about:

  • Signs and symptoms of paternal depression, postnatal anxiety, stress and PTSD
  • The prevalence of poor paternal mental health during the first 1,000 days 
  • The impact of poor paternal mental health on families and children and importance of early assessment 
  • what stops and what encourages paternal engagement
  • Services that support dads with mental health problems


  • Practice and ideas for improving father-inclusivity.
  • how to how to ask about dads mental health discreetly and sensitively
  • How to apply what they have learnt to their current professional roles 
  • How to share their new knowledge and experience within their workplace.

By the end of the course participants will have:

  • Increased understanding of new dads’ mental health, and the impact this can have on mums, babies and the family uni
  • Greater understanding of some of the warning signs and symptoms associated with poor Paternal Mental Health.
  • Improved awareness of the importance of engaging dads in service delivery.
  • Greater confident asking about dads Mental Health & signposting dads with poor Paternal Mental Health (and their families) to further support services.
  • Been able to identify small changes to their practice, that will support dads mental health.

How will delivery work?

  • Optimum number of participants: 14 (flexible)
  • Flexible time appropriate to your needs, either via Zoom or in person (dependent on current restrictions)
  • Participants will be supplied with the Understanding Parental Mental Health Workbook and accompanying materials.
  • A 'Training the Trainers' session is available to help ensure local sustainability.

Participants told us:

"It was really good, I am amazed at how online training can be so interactive and enlightening." - training participant from University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire.

What difference does it make to families?

“I was made to feel welcome and was able to support my partner Mandy in the way that she needed at the time. All three of us benefited from that change and look back on the birth fondly as a result." Dad who was supported by trained perinatal staff in NHS Fife

A father whose first child at a hospital before we trained, told us the difference he noticed after we had trained perinatal staff, after the birth of his second child:

"I’m a father of two boys. My eldest, Joshua, is five and his younger brother, Zachary, is 18 months old.

My wife, Mandy, delivered naturally in both occasions. The first labour was more complex as she had to go into theatre shortly after for a minor procedure. During the labour I felt like a bit of a spare part, and the delivering midwife gave me little jobs to do, I think more to make me feel part of things rather than being any real help to anyone.

We only had about 20 minutes or so together after Joshua arrived before Mandy was taken to theatre, and we were told to expect her back within an hour or so - this became just under three hours and I was literally left holding the baby - I was in relative peace, which suited me just fine.

Mandy returned from theatre to the assessment area (essentially a 6-bed bay) just before 7pm and our respective parents arrived shortly after. Sensing we wanted to have some time just the three of us, they each left after an half an hour or so. No sooner had they left I was told by the nurse-in-charge that I would have to leave as visiting had ended. This caught us both by surprise – Mandy was still numb from the waist down and hadn’t slept properly for the 72 hours so was in floods of tears. I gave up protesting at 8.45pm and went home.

The following day I arrived at the hospital at 9.30am, half an hour before visiting would start, or so I thought....

As she was still in the assessment area, visiting didn’t start at 10am is it did on the Maternity Ward and it would be 2pm before I would be allowed in. I put a brave face on it while I spoke to Mandy but as soon as the call ended I burst into tears – this isn’t really my style and I don’t know if it was tiredness, worry, impatience, or a blend of these but I was a mess. I finally was allowed in at 2pm, shortly after they had been moved to the Maternity Ward and we finally had some time just the three of us.

Our second child arrived in 2018 and Zach’s birth was much more straightforward (easy for me to say, I know).

We arrived at the hospital at 8.30pm and the initial examination confirmed that Mandy was already fully dilated – it was all systems go! Mandy was unbelievably calm from start to finish, cracking one-liners right up until Zach arrived just after 11pm. After Zach was cleaned up and Mandy was given a check over, the midwives left us to spend some time together. As the Unit was relatively quiet we were told we could stay where we were, and they brought us food and even blankets for me to spend the night. I could bring Zach over to feed when he cried, I could fetch Mandy clothes or drinks and I was able to make the experience much less stressful for her. We were discharged the following morning and could take Zach back to meet his big brother.

My wife would be the first to tell you that she felt well supported in both labours. For me, it was night and day – Joshua’s birth was undoubtedly more complicated and this obviously affected the experience we both had. A more important factor in my mind was the individual personalities involved – with Zach’s birth, I was made to feel welcome and was able to support Mandy in the way that she needed at the time. All three of us benefited from that change and look back on the birth much more fondly as a result." 

Next Steps

To find out more or book a date, contact our trainer Chris Miezitis: 

[email protected]