Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) has teamed up with North East Young Dads & Lads (NEYDL), a charity which supports young dads under the age of 26 in the region.
The 12-month partnership will look at how to better engage with dads to provide better support for the whole family.
North East Young Dads & Lads started life in 2017 as a way of providing support to a group who are often overlooked. The charity works with over 70 disadvantaged young dads a year, offering 1-1, peer supported group work, volunteering and digital opportunities.
The partnership came about thanks to Jan Rigby, Advanced Nurse Practitioner in CNTW’s Perinatal Community Mental Health Team, who approached the charity.
“Part of the NHS Long Term Plan is to assess dads’ mental health,” she explained. “They often prioritise their partners and don’t open up to have conversations about their own needs. We hope to learn how to best engage with dads so they can get the support they require.”
Founder and CEO of NEYDL, Kevin Stoodley, said: “Young fathers and expectant dads aged under 25 are one of the most marginalised and disadvantaged communities within our region today. Whilst young mothers are commonly seen as vulnerable and in need of care and support, young fathers are typically viewed as a problem to be avoided, resulting in a near total absence of professional help and support. As a result, young fathers are all too often forced to confront pressures of navigating family, partner and peer relationships, new adult responsibilities and changing identities alone.
“They can feel a lack of belonging or that they’re invisible and they’re a group that often has a negative portrayal in the media. By investing in young men, we enable them to gain the confidence and skills to play an active, positive, and meaningful role in the lives of their children and families.”
By offering support to dads, they can also feel better equipped to support their partners too. CNTW’s Perinatal Community Mental Health Team helps women experiencing mental health difficulties related to pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood.
Jan said: “I’ve worked in services for many years and there are so many people who would have benefited from North East Young Dads & Lads if it had been around then. Kevin is an inspiration.
“This partnership will help us better understand how to authentically engage with dads who come through our perinatal services.”
Kevin added: “We’re very excited to be working closely with CNTW. In the past, young dads have often felt overlooked or excluded from Health and Social Care support, which makes this project and Jan’s vision all the important.”
Part of the partnership has also seen young dads working into the perinatal service in a peer support role. Peer supporters support service users by drawing on their own lived experiences to share insight, understanding and empathy on their journey to recovery.
Those who may need help can self or peer-refer on the North East Young Dads & Lads website: https://www.neydl.uk/
If you are pregnant or a new mother and are worried about your mental health, please speak to your GP who will help you access the support you need.