• Blogs
  • How to approach a new dad about his emotional wellbeing

How to approach a new dad about his emotional wellbeing

13 June 2019 Blog
Perinatal mental health Community services
When someone you care for is struggling emotionally, it can be hard to know how to approach them. National Director Raphael Services, Helen McAllister, talks about how you can approach your partner or husband about his emotional wellbeing.

The first few months, or even years, of having a new baby can be challenging for both mum and dad. While the pressures of a new addition to the family can cause stress for both parents, dads are often reluctant to seek help and hide how they are truly feeling. 

In Australia, as many as one in 10 expecting or new dads will experience anxiety or depression during pregnancy and/or during the perinatal period.

If you are noticing changes in your partner’s behaviour or notice that he is struggling with daily activities, here are some ways to get a better sense of how he is feeling.

Make time

Choose a moment that allows both of you to take the time you need to discuss the topic properly and in a safe environment.

Tell him what you’ve noticed about his mood or emotions, and listen to your partner without judgement, asking what support he needs. Just starting a conversation will let your partner know that he’s not alone and show genuine interest in how he is feeling

Join him in something he loves

If your husband struggles to open up about his feelings, try taking part in a particular activity or hobby he enjoys – this may be a sport, going for a walk, or have a break from the children by organising a meal out or a weekend away together. 

Although you may not enjoy the same hobbies as your husband, taking part in something he loves will make him feel appreciated and, in turn, may allow him to open up about his feelings. 

Reasons for change

If your husband does not want to talk or does not recognise that he needs support, it may be useful to talk with him about how his emotions or issues are affecting the family, and to list the reasons why addressing them would help your family thrive. 

He may not be aware that his changes in behaviour, such as withdrawal or extreme worry, are being noticed by the children and putting a strain on the family dynamics.

This may be a way to encourage him to open up and connect with the support he needs.

Seeking professional help

Don’t be afraid to suggest to your husband to get professional help to manage his emotional wellbeing as a new parent, and offer to do this together. 

St John of God Raphael Services specialises in supporting the emotional needs of new parents and is available to dads, mums and families for no cost with a GP referral.

The most important thing is for parents to be open about how they feel and support each other’s needs. With the right support, parents will be able to thrive as individuals, create a strong family unit and be the best parents they can be. 

Helen McAllister
Helen McAllister - National Director Raphael Services, St John of God Social Outreach

Helen has extensive experience in health leadership and management both in NSW and WA.

Helen has a long employment history with St John of God Health Care at Subiaco, Murdoch and currently in Social Outreach where she has held a range of senior leadership positions. Helen is a Registered Nurse and Midwife and currently works at St John of God Social Outreach as the National Director of Raphael Services ensuring the safe provision of perinatal infant mental health care to mums, dads, babies and their families from 15 Raphael Services; 4 in WA, 7 in Victoria and 4 in NSW.

Along with her Nursing, Midwifery and Child & Family Health Certificates, Helen holds a Bachelor of Health Science (Management), a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Leadership & Catholic Culture. Helen has also published research in Australia and internationally.