After going through postnatal depression in 2011 with his wife and suffering from depression himself Mark Williams has set up a new charity called “Fathers Reaching Out” which supports fathers and families of those suffering from postnatal depression.
Mark found that while there was support for his wife there was no support for fathers and families and a lack of education, research and awareness about the illness in general.
In January 2012 Mark set up a website called www.fathersreachingout.com as a point of contact for fathers and families and has also published a book on Amazon called “Mark Williams Reaching Out” about his personal experiences of postnatal depression and depression.
Postnatal depression is often a major cause of families breaking up due to the high stress levels it creates and the lack of education or support to combat this. While the mother receives treatment and support the father has to deal with the newborn baby, the partner’s depression and work in isolation.
Mark comments “When I was at my deepest, I didn’t think I could turn to anyone. I was told I had to go on a waiting list for counselling which after sixteen months I am still waiting for the phone call. I went to free counselling through a drink programme, which was the starting point of my recovery.”
He continues, “Since then in the last 12 months I have turned my life from a negative into a positive, and now feel strongly about helping others in the same situation as me. I was just given medication and that was that, and feel that a simple outreach project could not only save the government money, but stop families from breaking up.”
Mark has raised awareness through public speaking to people from the NHS and the mental health charity MIND amongst other resources. Mark has also been asked to appear on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, Radio 5 live and other networks. He has many followers and now receives emails from all corners of the world, from professors to people who have been through the experience themselves.
Due to Mark self funding the ‘Fathers Reaching Out’ project and all his hard work in awareness he has been awarded ‘Inspirational Father of the Year’ in Wales, The Welsh selection for the Pride of Britain Awards and was even short listed at the Mind Media Awards hosted by Stephen Fry. He has also had an article published in a journal for health visiting.
Mark hopes to help even more people and take his campaign from strength to strength. He would like help with a project he is starting along side Fathers Reaching Out, which will involve going into shelters for homeless, prisons and other places where people can help others and also better themselves by taking part. Marks aim is also to educate students in schools and employees in companies around the country that they must seek help before it gets to breaking point, like it did to
Since speaking out about his illness and the effect of postnatal depression, Mark has been delighted with the results. He has had people who he has known for many years come up to him saying they too have suffered in silence.
Mark notes, “People are more willing to open up when they know that they are talking to someone who has been through the same situation themselves and don’t feel judged. Many people including myself were afraid to seek help, and didn’t know how people would react to the situation. I know this is a illness, that anyone can have in their lifetime as the figures show 1 in 4 will have a mental illness in their lifetime.”
Mark concludes “If we can start talking about this illness called depression, people will be more likely to come forward and seek the help quicker and start the recovery at the earliest point.”
Follow Mark Williams on twitter @fathersreaching or see www.fathersreachingout.com for more about the campaign.