With special guest:
- Mark Williams
Our guest in today’s program is Mark Williams who has been awarded “Inspirational Father of the Year” at the Pride of Britain awards. This is impressive enough but it also shows how far he has come since the birth of his son Ethan in 2004.
Both Mark and his wife Michelle suffered crippling anxiety after the birth and Mark hit rock bottom when he began to experience suicidal thoughts. And yet the reason for the torrent of negative emotions and spiralling depression had less to do with their son than the mental health issues that were confronting them. In hindsight Mark recognises that he had experienced a condition long recognised in mothers, that of post-natal depression.
The problem at the time was that Mark felt he could not speak to anyone about his stressful condition and ultimately it led to a breakdown. There is still a stigma attaching to men admitting that they have post-natal depression and this makes them reluctant to seek help or even talk to their friends and loved ones about it.
Eventually Mark was put on medication and took a course of cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness which turned things around. Now Mark and Michelle are closer than ever as a couple and have a fantastic bond with their son. Mark wants to get the message out about the condition and the help available.
Perinatal mental health issues may arise in the final months of pregnancy and for up to six months after the birth. Today it is estimated that one father in three experiences post-natal depression. In Britain the estimate by the National Childbirth Trust is that 73% of new fathers worry about their partner’s mental health while 38% worry about their own mental health. Mark is committed to raising awareness of mental health issues for fathers and has already spoken at over 100 conferences and events. Mark has delivered workshops and training around the UK and has recently visited Australia before taking his message to New Zealand, the USA and Canada.
We caught up with Mark while he was attending the biennial International Marcé Society Conference in Melbourne. The conference was titled “Frontiers in Perinatal Mental Health - Looking to the Future”. Mark gives us the message from his presentation to this distinguished audience.
After a career in sales management and training Mark Williams became involved in the mental health sector after his own experience with depression following the birth of his child. Mark is the founder of Fathers Reaching Out and was a co-founder of the charity Dads Matter UK. He is an author, blogger, trainer and a public speaker. Mark has presented at over 100 conferences and has appeared on BBC Breakfast, ITV News, Good Morning Britain and Channel 5 among numerous media appearances. He has recently visited Australia where he presented a paper at the International Marcé Society Conference held in Melbourne from 26 to 28 September 2016.
Song selection by our guest: My Way by Frank Sinatra