Online mental health support for dads

  • Mother holding baby with dad holding baby's hand

Parenthood is a time of transition requiring both mums and dads to adapt to new roles, demands and responsibilities. The impact the arrival of a baby can have on the couple’s relationship can be significant. Many men underestimate the enormity of this life-changing event, not only on their own wellbeing, but on that of their partner.

Managing the mental and emotional changes, all while continuing to manage the challenges of day-to-day rural life, can be overwhelming.

Men living in rural areas often face the stigma of mental health, with concerns about openly discussing their problems or being seen by their mates or neighbours as weak for accessing mental health services. A culture of self-reliance and supporting others before themselves also makes it less likely for men in rural areas to seek out mental health support.

Combating the stigma, in addition to improving access to professional care, are important steps in building more resilient individuals, families and communities in rural and remote Australia.

Research conducted by the Parent–Infant Research Institute (PIRI) through its Towards Parenthood program shows that knowing what to expect and being prepared for these major life changes can help dads manage this transition.

For men living in remote and rural Australia, the challenges of parenthood may be further compounded by isolation, extended waitlists, lack of availability of mental health services and professionals, and the often-vast distances they may need to travel to access mental health services.

Online mental health interventions help bridge these gaps through the remote delivery of supports that increase access to mental health care. Digital programs may be particularly appealing and beneficial for men living in remote and rural areas.

As part of its commitment to building a brighter future for all Australians, PIRI has developed DadSpace, a website dedicated to supporting fathers across Australia, regardless of where they live. DadSpace provides information, strategies, tips, resources and support specifically for dads who are expecting or have a new baby.

DadSpace also includes a call for dads who are experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety to join the evaluation of a new online treatment program for dads called DadBooster. This online intervention is a world-first specialised treatment based upon a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) approach and can be a great complement to face-to-face services.

Development of DadBooster was informed by evidence-based research and ongoing consultation that PIRI is conducting with Australian dads and dads-to-be.

Visit the DadSpace website to find out more about these exciting supports for rural men.

DadSpace also provides online access to the following positive-parenting programs:

  • If you are preparing for the changes and challenges of a new baby, you will enjoy working through Towards Parenthood. This interactive workbook focuses on the main areas of change encountered by men and women as they make the transition into parenthood. Text and thought-provoking exercises prepare the reader for the emotional, social and psychological changes that may arise as they become parents. The focus is on developing both coping and parenting skills.
  • For all new parents there are great online tools to help you manage the challenges of parenting. Baby Steps is a free online program that aims to enhance the wellbeing of new mums and dads. Baby Steps was written for people having their first baby but can be used by anyone who wants to learn more about caring for their young baby or themselves.

For more info on evidenced-based parenting support, including programs for new mums – MumSpace and MumMoodBooster – and PIRI research and newsletters, visit: www.piri.org.au

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