Tuesday, 21 May 2024

More than four in ten men left feeling suicidal after a separation or divorce

The University of West London’s Lost Dads project found it applied to 41.9% of males who approach support services.

This may have a key link to suicide being the leading cause of death for men under 50.

The study explores family breakdown, court involvement and mental health issues.

The project has made a number of recommendations, including a rethink of co-parenting arrangements, ahead of International Men’s Day on November 19.

The report, by applied psychology professor Dr Ben Hine and funded by the Woodward Charitable Trust, analysed data on more than 1,000 men seeking help from charities.

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Dr Hine said: “When families break down, there’s no real support in place – particularly for men – and that’s probably the biggest issue.

“All the research indicates that supporting parents to build shared co-parenting arrangements has better outcomes for children than single-parent families.

“This project indicates that this would have benefits for parents, particularly fathers. So, there are psychological, academic, practical and moral reasons why we should be striving towards access to both parents for children providing it is safe to do so.”

The recommendations include the idea of triage for urgent intervention and care, for fathers and the family as a whole, following breakdown. Another is to reform the family courts system, removing adversarial and acrimonious elements of separation.

Dr Hine said: “We must acknowledge the value fathers have in the lives of children, regardless of whether parents stay together, separate or divorce.

“We need a model like they have in many Scandinavian countries, where support is given to determine the child’s best interests in matters regarding custody, housing and access.”

He added that if shared parenting is the default “we not only put the child’s best interests first, but we also benefit parents”.

Sam Morfey, of the Families Need Fathers charity, said: “It should be socially unacceptable for a parent – whether it be the mother or the father – to withhold contact and deny a relationship for the child with the other parent…just because of a relationship breakdown.” Gemma Lawson, of charity Dads Unlimited, said: “There needs to be more means to support men who are experiencing family breakdown.”

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