Putting the focus on new dads

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A free pilot program to help new and expectant fathers through the physical emotional and mental, challenges of parenthood is being rolled out in the Western Sydney region.

The region is one of four, including Northern NSW, Northern Sydney, and the Murrumbidgee region to take part in the ‘Focus on New Fathers’ pilot program.

The program sends texts to dads, offering valuable health advice and links into pathways to ensure support options are available.

Western Sydney Local Health District Integrated and Community Health Child and Family program lead Lyn Tunchon said parenthood could be a difficult time for new fathers and mothers.

“New dads want to be able to concentrate on their partners and children at this time, and they often don’t think to look after themselves as well,” Lyn said.

“Research has shown men are often reluctant to engage with the health system to get support, despite around one in ten dads experiencing depression and anxiety in the postnatal period.

“This program is about letting fathers know they’re not alone and there is support for them when they need it.”

Men living in Western Sydney can sign up if they are over the age of 18, their partner is at least 16 weeks pregnant or their baby is younger than 24 weeks.  They need to have a mobile phone capable of receiving and sending text messages.

The pilot, which is being delivered by the University of Newcastle in partnership with NSW Health, will run over the next year.

Associate Professor Elisabeth Murphy, Senior Clinical Advisor, Child and Family Health, said self-care for new fathers was extremely important as the mental and physical wellbeing of both parents had a direct effect on their children.

“Receiving help with health issues early on ensures dads are in the best possible position to care for their new baby and partner,” Associate Professor Murphy said.

For more information, and to sign up for the program, visit: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/public/Pages/focus-on-fathers.aspx