“Early in medical school, I wanted to do something different from what my dad did. But unconsciously, the way he practiced medicine really influenced my idea of psychiatry and how you can connect with families on a deeper level.”
These days, Brad Locke runs mindfulness groups alongside his dad, Dr. Jake Locke at BC Children’s Hospital. Together, they facilitate the only known research-based mindfulness workshops for new dads. The workshops run for six to eight weeks and were adapted from similar sessions for new mothers after Dr. Dierdre Ryan and her Reproductive Mental Health Team recognized it would be good to offer some support to new dads.
“We focus on helping these men develop a quality meditative practice so they can better cope with the stresses of parenthood,” said Jake Locke. “Studies have shown that mindfulness reduces stress and improves depression and anxiety. By the end of these workshops, these fathers are usually less reactive, and more engaged with their children and their partners.”
Statistics show that up to 27 per cent of men suffer from postpartum blues. With one in ten men experiencing anxiety or depression after the birth or adoption of a child, Jake Locke says new dads really need the support, too.
“Whenever the topic of perinatal depression comes up, men are rarely mentioned,” said Jake Locke. “Of course, the right resources need to be in place for mothers, but fathers should be considered in these conversations as well.
While Brad Locke isn’t a father himself yet, facilitating the workshops – and working alongside his dad – have taught him some valuable lessons.
"I can only imagine what it's like to struggle with sleep deprivation and the stress of being a new parent," said Brad Locke. “There’s still a lot of stigma around mental health and becoming a parent, so I commend these men for taking the time to focus on their own mental health. I've witnessed first-hand the impact mindfulness has had on the members of our group."
The BC Reproductive Mental Health Program is a part of BC Children’s Hospital. A team of specialized professionals work with women and their families who are dealing with mental health challenges or emotional difficulties related to pregnancy, the postpartum period, pregnancy loss, infertility and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
The next Mindful Dads workshop begins April 1, 2019. The course is free but a referral from a family doctor is required. Please call the reproductive mental health team at 604-875-2025 for more information.