I bet you are thinking how can a man possibly have postnatal depression, well it happened to me and it was the reason why I set up Fathers Reaching Out.
People say Mental health has a stigma attached, but a man with postnatal depression – trust me that’s hard. Postnatal depression can occur in men. Any depression in the first 12 months of a baby being born is diagnosed as “Postnatal Depression”. Having gone through the experience in 2004 with my wife Michelle didn’t have any idea that someone could really became depressed, let alone a man. I didn’t really know until 2011 when I had the same feeling of those in 2004 that I was really depressed.
When it comes to postnatal depression people automatically think its a women and that’s the hardest part for men to really come forward to get help. It’s an illness that happens in the first 12 months after the birth, so maybe it should be called depression instead for men. It was my wife’s servere depression that had the knock-on effect on my own mental wellbeing. As neither of us had ever suffered with any mental illness before and didn’t understand it ourselves. Depression can hit anyone. I had to give up my work and look after my wife and new born son. I then had to deal with the money worries which came from being off work. The worst part was the isolation. It was unbearable.
Depression is an illness and people shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it. We didn’t ask for it – our life was great. It happened like a switch going on. I strongly feel that even though there is more support now for women in this situation there is not much support for men. Men don’t talk about their feelings and shouldn’t be afraid if they need help. It took me 7 years until it got to the point I had to seek help and picked up the phone in 2011 for help and it was the best thing I did.
In 2012 I was awarded Inspirational father of the year and Local hero at the Pride of Britain awards. I have written a book about my experience and have appeared on National radio and Television about postnatal depression and men. I set up Fathers Reaching Out and have helped men and women dealing with an illness that effects millions. Families are breaking up due to this illness and children are being effected due to lack of support.
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Mark’s own life story is direct proof of what serves as his main message: that the thoughts and words we choose have a direct impact on how our lives play out. After being told in school he would never amount to anything in life, Mark went on to become Local hero at Pride of Britain awards and Inspirational “Father of the Year Awards”.
His website fathers reaching out was shortlisted in its first year at the Mind Media Awards in 2012 hosted by Stephen Fry.
Mark has given motivational lectures around the UK where he uses techniques including visualisation, affirmations, and positive metaphors to instil in his audience extraordinary self- belief and unrelenting confidence in their abilities.
Most impressively, Mark is able to bring his own experience from a negative into a positive.
Mark is a public speaker and has shared the stage with many Professors and Doctors. He has spoken in many venues throughout the UK;
Mark has also spoken at Huddersfield University and now speaks every year at the University of Birmingham to students.
Mark has written many articles for magazines on men’s mental health issues and the impact it can have on the whole family.
Over the last two years Mark has written two books and has become a regular online blogger for many mental health charities. He has appeared on BBC Breakfast, Channel 5 “My Secret Past” and also with Jennifer Elision on ITV. He has spoken on many radio stations including Woman’s Hour, Live 5 Radio and most of the local and national radio stations.
Mark has used his expertise and understanding of mental health and has written a free magazine to help raise awareness, it includes useful information and links which support others with the illness.
Mark can be found on his blog and twitter.
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