New dads experiencing mental health difficulties linked to fatherhood can get dedicated support at free Bristol music sessions.
Many traditional baby and toddler activities are either targeted at mums or tend to have a much higher proportion of mums attending compared to dads.
This means there are often fewer social groups offering activities for dads to bond with their child away from their partners, and fewer opportunities for them to build support networks to improve their mental health.
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This is despite the challenges of supporting a partner through pregnancy, birth and getting to grips with being a new parent.
Grassroots charity Evolve has teamed up with Bluebell, Dads In Mind and Bristol Youth Music to create a programme which specifically focuses on dads with young children.
The new community music project Dads Rock, currently running as a pilot scheme, aims to remove existing barriers while also providing social opportunities for dads to actively support their own wellbeing.
‘Being a dad can be daunting’
Mark Scott, programmes manager at Evolve said: “Most early years music groups are not widely attended by dads. We wanted to create a music group where dads can come together to have a break, have fun and bond with their children, while building confidence in their own parenting skills.
“Being a new dad can be daunting, especially if you, or your partner are experiencing anxiety or perinatal depression. Dads Rock is a group focused on the mental health of fathers and led by male music leaders. It’s a place for dad’s to connect and share experiences, if they wish to.”
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The service is particularly valuable in light of the pandemic, which has compounded feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation for many new parents.
James Lorimer, a regular user of the service, said: “The weekly session gives me the chance to bond with my son through the power of music.”
Postnatal depression for men
According to parent support charity the NCT, studies suggest the number of men who become depressed in the first year after becoming a dad is double that of the general population.
One in 10 dads-to-be will become depressed during their partner’s pregnancy, research shows, with first-time dads being particularly vulnerable.
The peak time for postnatal depression in men is three to six months after the birth and as with postnatal depression in mums, it often goes un-diagnosed as the symptoms can look a lot like the everyday stresses of having a newborn.
Men are also less likely to access psychological therapies than women
(Image: Evolve Music)
Men are also said to be less likely to access psychological therapies than women, with research showing that only 36 per cent of referrals to specialist services for the treatment of depression and anxiety are men.
How it works
The 90 minute sessions incorporate free play with real instruments, and explore music-making through technology, singing, rhythm and games. They will also provide a safe space for dads to have some time out, connect, talk and support each other if they wish to.
The free group sessions for dads and toddlers under the age of two are being held weekly, on Mondays, at Bristol Plays Music in Southmead.
They began on August 9 and take place from 2pm until 3.30pm. The pilot scheme could be extended or offered to other areas in Bristol and Somerset – click here to find out more.
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Evolve Music works directly with isolated and marginalised people and communities and aims to enrich lives through sound and music exploration.
The grassroots charity uses sound exploration and improvisation to co-create music with communities and support the development of music leaders and the wider community music sector.
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