Internataional Fathers Mental Health Day Founder Mark Williams is well qualified in mental health through his personal experience of panic attacks and postnatal depression following the traumatic birth of his son, a mental breakdown in 2011, living with ADHD and the extensive training he has undertaken. He also experienced the difficulty of trying to support his wife Michelle who suffered severe postnatal depression while being unwell himself.
However, within five years, Mark was able to turn his and Michelle's lives around and has spoken on national television and radio in the UK and USA to raise the profile of perinatal mental health faced by fathers and campaign for support. He founded 'Fathers Reaching Out' in 2011 to raise awareness of the detrimental impact that PTSD following a traumatic birth and the resulting postnatal depression (PND) have on both fathers and families as a whole.
Mark trained in Perinatal Mental Health with Dr. Jane Hanley, Past-President of The Marce Society for Perinatal Mental Health and takes part in her professional mentoring days delivering speeches from a father’s perspective. He also contributed to her book 'Listening Visits in Perinatal Mental Health: A Guide for Health Professionals and Support Workers'.
Fathers Reaching Out was the first organisation to tackle this issue and the organisation has received colossal recognition from both the media and the public. In its first year the Fathers Reaching Out website was short listed for an award at the Mind Media Awards, hosted by Stephen Fry. In 2012 Mark was also awarded local hero at the renowned Pride of Britain awards. Mark was also awarded a social enterprise award for his project, "Social Awareness of Postnatal Depression”, It was also chosen to appear as one of the six projects on ITV for the “Big Lottery People Millions”.
Over the years Mark has written two books and has become a regular online blogger for many mental health charities. He has appeared on BBC Breakfast, Channel 5 "My Secret Past" and also with Jennifer Elision on ITV. He has spoken on many radio stations including Woman’s Hour, Live 5 Radio and several other local and national radio stations. He was involved in an education video about perinatal mental health with actress Denise Welch. He also writes for the Huffington post on mens mental health and awareness of Post-tramumatic stress disorder at the birth for fathers with Anna Machin, Oxford University.
Mark has used his expertise and understanding of mental health and has written a free magazine to help raise awareness for the illness, it includes useful information and links which provide support for others. To date there have been two very successful awareness study days that have taken place. Both events included professional and personal speaker’s stories taken from their own experiences through mental health.
Mark is part of The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) is a coalition of UK organisations committed to improving the mental health and wellbeing of women and their children in pregnancy and the first postnatal year.As an early / founding member, Fathers Reaching Out and now Dads Mental Health Matters, had provided support and resources to establish the alliance.If we can influence at the highest levels the provision of an “Integrated Care Network for Perinatal Mental Health" across the UK it may at last end the current postcode lottery of care!
Mark was involved with the report by National Childbirth Trust "Dads in Distress" that reached millions around the world. He has spoken at The houses of Parliament, The Baby Show, The Collage of Midwives, Health Visitors Conferances, Mental Health Conferances, World Prevention Suicide day, NHS Conferances, Professional Sporting Clubs,The Bussiness Show Excel, Perinatal Mental Health Conferances, Universitys,Prison, Schools,Youth Projects Television programmes and National Radio. Mark has also spoken in the House of Lords and Houses of Parliament on the shortages for services in mental health.
In addition to‘Fathers Reaching Out’, Mark has also been actively involved in the voluntary sector since 2001. He is a volunteer youth worker and football coach. Mark is a high achiever and has been British Champion and Welsh Champion in three different sports. He has also organised and taken part in many different events for charity including the 2003 London Marathon.