Research into the mental health of young fathers reveals lack of support

Already vulnerable young fathers are not provided any additional means of support by the education or employment communities

Young fathers face preventable barriers when accessing education and employment, leaving some in vulnerable positions suggests new research published by Leeds Trinity University and parenting platform DaddiLife.

New Pathways for Young Fathers looks at the day-to-day experiences of young fathers and how they manage their role as a parent. The hope is the study will spark further debate and progress on the impact education, employment, training, and the lack of support have on the mental wellbeing of young fathers.

The report, a  collaboration between Leeds Trinity University, DaddiLife and Leeds City Council’s ‘Support and Prevention Team’ and ‘Futures’, found that there is a need for policy change – particularly investing in and providing more professional and community support for young men. Future focus should be on the emerging role of what it means to be a father and enabling a better understanding of young fathers’ rights.

Dr Carmen Clayton, co-author and Reader in Family and Cultural Dynamics at Leeds Trinity University, said: “Through a mutual and passionate interest in modern-day fatherhood and the lives of young fathers, Leeds Trinity University and DaddiLife formed a new research collaboration to focus on the current educational, employment, and training experiences and trajectories for this group of parents.

“By providing a platform for young fathers’ voices, we hope that this study will generate and encourage much-needed discussion among professionals and policymakers and our online launch event will be a starting point for initiating these debates.”

Han-Son Lee, Founder of DaddiLife and co-author, said: Despite the many advances of fathers over the last few years being able to dispel the traditional stereotype of being a secondary or lazy parent, New Pathways for Young Fathers has revealed there remains a hidden array of extra issues and tensions for young fathers.

“My hope is that this research has started to shine a light on the incredible attempts these men are making in re-shaping their lives, ambitions, and day to day experiences around their new fatherly role.

He added: “But despite their best efforts, educational barriers, employment policies, and ever reducing support is leading to very real and worrying health concerns of these young fathers. It’s vital that we deepen our focus into this group of parents across the whole of the UK.”

Funded by Research England, the study comprised a series of focus groups and interviews with young fathers aged under 25 at the time of pregnancy or birth in Leeds and the North East. The process involved ten face to face interviews, ten telephone interviews and a series of focus groups with young fathers.

Alison Hadley, Director, Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange, the University of Bedfordshire who is speaking at the launch event for the event on Friday said: “This research provides a rich insight into the lived experiences of young fathers as they navigate pathways into further education, training and work. It highlights the barriers – so often invisible to others – but also shows how good support can really help. What we need now is for this research to inform national strategy and policy, which will help make a difference to all young fathers in the future.”
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