Ty Hafan

#family friday

#5in55 dad paul talks to bbc's jason mohammad show about men's mental health

Paul Fears

I'm Paul, father to Greg, who’s got a terminal illness.

We’ve received tremendous support from Tŷ Hafan. What I wanted to explain was that men and dads actually deal with emotions and things very differently to women.

The way we’ve dealt with it at Tŷ Hafan is as a Dads Group. There’s a bunch of us who work together to look after each other in the circumstances. We talk to each other within a closed group. What we’ve found is very often we don’t want to talk to our families about it.

For many different reasons I suppose society sees men as being supposed to be the strong people. You’ve got to get over that persona that you’re looking after your family. What we find is that, amongst the dads, we can discuss difficult issues without there being any judgement about ourselves, because we are all in the same situation.

I think the trouble is that [the amount of help available] is very sporadic; it’s a huge problem. We were very fortunate because Tŷ Hafan was the conduit for helping us.

The support we get from Tŷ Hafan specifically is great but actually it’s the availability of these other dads who we can contact, so you can talk to people who are experiencing the same emotions as you are.

I think sometimes the professionals – unless they’ve been through what you’re going through – never understand. It doesn’t matter how many degrees they take, they’ll never actually understand. But you speak to someone who’s been through, or is going through, your situation and they do understand. It’s almost as if they’re wearing the same colour glasses. I think sometimes maybe that’s got to be brought into dealing with mental health because then you don’t feel alone, you don’t feel isolated, you think ‘hang on a second, there’s a guy there that feels the same way as me and it’s really important you’ve got that connection.

Believe it or not, when Greg was two we were told we would have him until he was eight years old – and he was 27 in July. So we are really blessed. The medical care he’s had has been absolutely incredible and he’s just the star of our life. He’s smiley, happy and he brings us all back down to earth, I tell you that!