Spotlight on Dads for Men’s Health Week
Spotlight on Dads for Men’s Health Week
While there are many services and programs focusing on birth, baby and toddler care and mothers’ mental health, the same level of support for dads has always been difficult to find.
When Tweddle piloted Working Out Dads in 2015, the Early Parenting organisation was trying to address this significant gap in health services for fathers of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
A few years earlier in 2012, a Parenting Research Centre study at Tweddle examined the mental health needs of fathers attending an Early Parenting Centre. The study assessed 144 Tweddle fathers who provided information on their symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and fatigue.
The majority of fathers admitted to the residential program had mental health symptoms, and one in five men were experiencing clinically significant levels of distress. The research findings demonstrated that the postnatal period was a key time for Services like Tweddle to engage fathers in support services.
Early fatherhood is a critical life stage 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.
Barriers that prevent dads from seeking parenting support in the early years is impacted by stigma, inflexible and long work hours and services that are only available during business hours. The Working Out Dads program addressed 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.
Mums are pretty good at building a network of support so there’s little surprise that dads felt that while ‘mothers’ groups made things seem normal, dads didn’t get that opportunity” and that “The important thing was building that network of fathers that you can lean on for advice.
The Working Out Dads Timeline
- 2015. Tweddle developed the manualised Working Out Dads pilot in response to research and to address a gap in early intervention health options for dads of children 0-4.
- 2016-17. The initial pilot evaluation with seven groups and 57 fathers demonstrated substantial reductions in depressive and stress symptoms and an increase in parenting confidence.
- 2017. Successful Learning System grant and philanthropic support enabled Tweddle to conduct a second and more comprehensive pilot evaluation in partnership with MCRI.
- 2017. WAIMH & Zero To Three Academic poster presentations
- 2017. WOD Pilot Evaluation published in the Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
- 2018/19 Delivered a further six programs in Melbourne’s West with pre and post program and 3 month follow up research study due end of Feb 2019 with thanks to the Bennelong Foundation and donors.
- 2019 Two additional programs delivered with City of Wyndham funding support.
- 2019 Helen MacPherson Smith Trust funds two additional programs and business case partnership with Social Ventures Australia
- 2020 Collier Charitable Fund finance an on-site residential group for Dads (on hold for Covid19)
- 2020 ‘Working Out Dads’ to promote men’s mental and physical health in early fatherhood: A mixed-methods evaluation published in The Journal of Family Studies Feb 2020 Giallo et al
- 2020 Australian Government MRFF Million Minds Mission grant which will deliver collaborative research (RCT) into suicide prevention among 280 new dads and a rigorous evaluation of Tweddle’s Working Out Dads (WOD) program – A.Prof Rebecca Giallo et al (MCRI)
Tweddle has now delivered 17 Working Out Dads programs across Melbourne’s west. Overwhelmingly, dads have told us the program has helped to reduce stress, improve health and relationships and increase parenting confidence.
As one dad put it following his Working Out Dads program “We’re all still pretty connected. If anyone has an issue they’ll call up and everybody is more than willing to talk or hang out”.
Support Resources for Dads
Tweddle’s Parenting Info HubParent Info Hub
Mensline or phone 1300 789 978
Dads get postnatal depression too – An article by Richard Fletcher
On Being a Dad – An article about uncertainty by Leo Babuata
- October 2020
- September 2020
- August 2020
- June 2020
- May 2020
- April 2020
- March 2020
- February 2020
- January 2020
- December 2019
- November 2019
- October 2019
- September 2019
- August 2019
- July 2019
- June 2019
- May 2019
- April 2019
- March 2019
- February 2019
- January 2019
- December 2018
- November 2018
- October 2018
- September 2018
- August 2018
- July 2018
- June 2018
- May 2018
- April 2018
- March 2018
- February 2018
- January 2018
- December 2017
- November 2017
- October 2017
- September 2017
- August 2017
- July 2017
- June 2017
- May 2017
- April 2017
- March 2017
- February 2017
- January 2017