Welwyn Garden City father hopes app will help combat mental health stigma

PUBLISHED: 06:58 06 February 2020

Lee Downes with his children. Picture Matt Powell

Lee Downes with his children. Picture Matt Powell


A Welwyn Garden City father who created an app to help support dads has been brought to tears by the positive feedback – and wants to reach out to more fathers in support of Time To Talk Day.

Dad AF was launched last year. Picture: Lee DownesDad AF was launched last year. Picture: Lee Downes

Founder Lee Downes created DAD AF last year after feeling the pressure and expectations of being a dad, and spoke to the WHT to coincide with Time to Talk Day today - which aims to get people talking about their mental health.

Father-of-two Lee, describing his motivation for creating the app, said: "There is a mental health crisis, suicide kills more men under 45 than cancer in the UK, and mental health problems often arise through key life events. Is there one much bigger than becoming a parent?

"But who's giving those hundreds of thousands of dads every year the support they need?"

Dad AF doesn't describe itself as a parenting company but as a support network and a community that brings dads together.

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Talking about the feedback the app has received, Lee said: "We have seen a ridiculous amounts of empathy, compassion and support within the community for other members - who are complete strangers.

"The overwhelming feedback from users has at times brought me to tears.

"Brand new users in the community have used their first post to just say how even by knowing the community exists, it has made them feel better and less alone."

Time to Talk Day's website mentions how one in four of us experience a mental health problem in any given year, and says: "The more conversations we have about mental health, the more myths we can bust and barriers we can break down - helping to end the isolation, shame and worthlessness that too many of us feel when experiencing a mental health problem."

The app has no financial investment, with Lee - who was recently made redunadant - funding everything from his own pocket.

He added: "DAD AF is me, with the help of a couple of other dads, trying to genuinely make a difference and in a small way to support the emotional and mental wellbeing of a part of society that has been over looked for so long."

To find out more about DAD AF search for 'DAD AF' on Facebook, or on the app store.

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