What do you intend to do to raise the awareness of postnatal depression in men? How do you plan to help remove this stigma?
The birth of a child can impact on everyone in the family and we need to do more to ensure that we offer support to families, not just mothers, during this time. The stigma surrounding all mental health issues has been around for too long and we must work to change that in our society if we are to really tackle the issue of mental health.
LIBERAL DEMOCRAT (Norman Lamb) –
I think that mental health issues across the board remain too stigmatised. From self harm to eating disorders and postnatal depression – in both men and women – we have for too long hidden mental health problems in the shadows and pretended they don’t exist – or would go away if we didn’t name them. In this government, Paul Burstow and I have worked tirelessly – with the vocal support of Nick Clegg – to challenge and change this, and we are beginning to see results. We delivered government funding for the Time to Change anti-stigma campaign and have committed to continue funding it in the next parliament. We have also set out our plans to increase funding for mental health services by £3.5 billion in the next government so that we can work towards providing services for everyone who needs them and ending the stigma attached to mental illness.
We think it is vital to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental health across the board. We support the ‘Time for Change’ campaign which raises awareness of mental health and helps to portray mental health more accurately in the media. We will also campaign to end discrimination based on mental health, for example by employers, as this can prevent people seeking help and add to their difficulties. We believe that there should be more involvement of men in antenatal and postnatal care, which would bring them in touch with health professionals and make it more likely that they would express anxieties. At the same time we would raise awareness amongst health professionals and help them to detect possible mental health concerns among all the people they work with, including fathers.
We agree that this is an area that is ignored and that needs funding for further research studies. To tackle stigma and discrimination an education programme would be devised and then rolled out in the schools about the signs and risks of men developing post-natal depression. A nationwide education drive would also be implemented outside of the schools to the general public. The huge importance of the role of the father in supporting and developing his own relationship with his baby could be emphasised alongside this information. We would support the NHS to engage with fathers as soon as their partner presents for ante natal care. Further written information must be provided for fathers at this stage about the signs of post-natal depression and where they can access help. The NHS and social care would have a pot of funding to be used specifically to enable fathers to get together to meet each other and spend their own protected time engaging in activities with their babies.
We will ensure that all schools include the teaching of tolerance and anti-discrimination to ensure nobody is stigmatized for their mental health problems.
Tackling mental health stigma and discrimination are priorities within the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy. As part of that commitment, the Scottish Government funds see me, Scotland’s national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination of mental ill health.