Elaine Connell, a member of the Maternal Mental Health Scotland Experts by Experience group, has recently been commissioned by the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival to undertake a participatory arts project exploring the mental health impact on new fathers during the perinatal period. Elaine, an artist and midwife, recently facilitated a similar creative project on behalf of MMHS, where new mums were supported to explore their experiences of perinatal mental illness and the service provision across Scotland. The project culminated with the launch of Invisible Truths in May 2021, an online exhibition, available to view at www.mmhsinvisibletruths.com
“It seemed like a natural progression to explore the impact of perinatal illness on new fathers, through the creative process. We know that many men will experience difficulties during the perinatal period, for a number of reasons, however they often are unable to access the same breadth of support services as mums. Some men will have an underlying mental health condition when they become fathers, making it a difficult transition, while others may find it difficult to support their partner through perinatal illness, as this can place significant strain on the family dynamic. In some circumstances, a traumatic birth experience can have a long-lasting impact on a dad’s psychological wellbeing, not to mention the added stress of the Covid pandemic on new parents.”
This new project, on behalf of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, will support the participants to explore their experiences through a variety of creative mediums, while raising awareness of men’s mental health, and tackling stigma. As recruitment gets underway, Elaine says
“I’m looking for dads based in Glasgow, who would like to participate in this important piece of work. They don’t need to be skilled in art, just open to trying new things, and willing to share their experience with the other participants. I hope that not only will we have an exhibition to show at the SMHAF exhibition in 2022, but that the work will also highlight the difficulties faced by men during the perinatal period, and generate meaningful conversations on how best to support them.”
Enquiries are welcome both from individuals and organisations who are keen to discuss participating in this exciting creative project. You can contact Elaine via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.