‘Don’t suffer in silence’: Support group for dads launches mental health campaign ahead of Father’s Day
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A Northamptonshire support group has launched a mental health campaign, to encourage more fathers who need support to reach out for help.
SENDS 4 Dad, a group for dads of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), has tried to promote its important message since it was founded by Paul Meadows eight years ago.
The group has pushed that “it is society that disables SEND children and they need to be taught to appreciate themselves,” the founder previously told this newspaper.
By providing fathers with tips, advice and a supportive network of people experiencing the same as them, it has allowed some families to stay together and improved men’s mental health.
The aim of this campaign is to increase the visibility of dads and male carers of children with SENDs, as “they are often forgotten”.
It is also to “reduce the stigma of asking for help and increase awareness of how the SENDS 4 Dad support group can help”.
The final aim is to “highlight the current mental health crisis within this group of dads, and to appeal for more mental health support and funding”.
Male parents and carers of young people with SENDs are welcome to join the group even before an official diagnosis.
SENDS 4 Dad was founded by Paul after he experienced a “severe lack of support for fathers of SEND children”, as his son Connor has autism.
Though there are currently more than 4,000 young people across the county with a formally diagnosed Education Health Care Plan, there are thousands more that receive some form of SEN support according to The Department of Education.
As part of the campaign to reach out to fathers and male carers who may need their support, SENDS 4 Dad is hosting its first #DadStock gig on July 15 at the Charles Bradlaugh.
Four local bands are playing, including indie favourites The Barratts with an acoustic set, The Daze with rock covers, original indie music from The Good Fridays, and The Helix.
The event is free and open to anyone, and young SEND people are welcome to come along.
Founder Paul, who is also the lead singer of The Daze who will be performing at next month’s event, said: “As we approach Father’s Day, this is a great time to highlight the real difficulties dads and male carers face when their child has SENDs – even before an official diagnosis.
“We want to use the campaign and event to encourage dads in a similar situation to reach out for help, come along, and speak to others. Don’t suffer in silence.”
With thousands of young people across Northamptonshire receiving support, Paul believes there must be hundreds of dads out there who potentially need the group’s help.
“We know we are currently only helping the tip of the iceberg,” said Paul. “But the personal experiences of the dads in the support group can help others.”