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Elaine Connell: On The Sidelines

Visual Arts

On The Sidelines explores the experiences of new fathers in Scotland, as they navigate the journey into parenthood during an unprecedented global pandemic.

Traditionally maternity services have focussed on the wellbeing of the mother and baby, providing perinatal mental health support as required, and more recently infant mental health support, but what about Dad? There is increasing evidence which tells us that men are also impacted by postnatal depression, and the stresses of a new baby can undoubtedly create strain and stress within a relationship, yet new dads are often neglected during this fragile perinatal period.

Toxic masculinity which exists within our West of Scotland culture further impedes new dad’s abilities to speak up and ask for support, with mental health stigma continuing to create barriers. The mental health of the whole family unit, irrespective of the make-up, needs to be supported, to provide the optimum nurturing environment for the new baby, it really does take a village to raise a child.

The dads who have engaged with the project have bravely shared their experiences, and supported each other in doing so, Common themes which have arisen include: feeling excluded by maternity services, traumatic birth experiences with no debriefing, lack of information, feelings of isolation and loneliness, race, pressures from social media, personal childhood experiences, and of course the impact of the covid restrictions.

The project participants have created a range of responses to their experiences, including creative writing, photography, digital art, and printmaking, which we look forward to sharing at the forthcoming exhibition with SMHAF. We hope the exhibition will provide a platform for conversations and raised awareness about dad’s mental health, and the importance of supporting the whole family.

On The Sidelines is an SMHAF Community Commission and is funded by the Baring Foundation.

NGS East

279-281 High Street, Glasgow G4 0QS

Sat 21st - Sun 22nd May
Sat 12-6pm & Sun 12-4pm