Dads Helping Dads

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When you think about a family separating, you think about the children, the mother and the father or another carer. But it’s probably safe to say we don’t always think about the father first.

Separation is an intense time for everyone involved, but there’s a service being rolled out across the country to help dads who are currently going through separation or have gone through separation and need a helping hand getting back up on their feet.

Dads in Distress (DIDs) is a 100% free service run by dads who have been through separation themselves. They understand that as a father being separated from your children, you might feel isolated, anxious, depressed, hopeless or even suicidal.

The team at DIDs can help with more than just being a listening ear or providing physical support. They can also help answer a number of questions you might have, particularly if you’ve never been through something like a separation before. DIDs find that many fathers have questions about the court process and mediation and contact orders.

The mental battle is a big part of what DIDs help with as well. Many dads feel isolated, can’t sleep, feel helpless and don’t know how to deal with things like being accused of things they haven’t done.

Hunter Valley DIDs facilitator Philip Penfold said the service is about providing much-needed support to men going through separation who may not feel comfortable asking for help anywhere else.

“As men go through separation we can support each other and that is so important for mental health and wellbeing,” he said.

“It’s common for these dads to have never asked for support before. They seem more comfortable to engage with Dads in Distress as it’s a group of men who are going through, or have gone through, the same difficulties.”

Philip said he is also acutely aware of the strains on relationships feeling much worse for dads involved in the hectic work schedules of the mining industry and associated industries.

“Shiftwork can take a toll on family life as they impact the dynamics,

 “Our aim is to support those dads who appear lost and confused, those that have difficulties when they are removed from the day-to-day lives of their children.”

There are a number of ways that you can reach out to the DIDs team – there are support groups both in person and online, workshops and a helpline that you can call.

Peer support groups are the main way that DIDs provide assistance. The groups are held right across Australia in different locations online and in person each week.

You don’t need to book your spot, just drop in. The support groups usually run for two hours and provide dads with the opportunity to talk to other dads, confidentially, and hear the wisdom and insight from other dads about the issues you’re struggling with.

In the Hunter, support groups are held in Singleton, Maitland, Charlestown and Gosford and there are online meetings you can access as well.

“Dads who attend typically leave each meeting feeling like they’re not alone and that they’re supported. They leave armed with the experiences of others to guide their path forward,” Philip said.

The online workshops are an opportunity for dads to confidently speak to and hear from experts like lawyers, police officers and psychologists.

Lastly, the helpline is available on 1300 853 437 seven days a week from 9am to 5pm. DIDs stresses that the helpline can get busy so if you are prompted to leave a voicemail please do as the DIDs support workers will get back to you as soon as they can.

The most important thing about all of the support avenues is that DIDs is non-judgemental and absolutely confidential.

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