In this episode of Digital Mental Health Musings host, Dr. Tania McMahon speaks to Scott White from SMS4dads about SMS4dads services, how it works, the evidence behind it, and how it can support health professionals. SMS4dads is a free service that provides text messages with support, information and tips for dads and dads-to-be, as well as tailored messages specifically for
In this episode of Digital Mental Health Musings host, Dr. Tania McMahon speaks to Scott White from SMS4dads about SMS4dads services, how it works, the evidence behind it, and how it can support health professionals.
SMS4dads is a free service that provides text messages with support, information and tips for dads and dads-to-be, as well as tailored messages specifically for First Nations dads. They aim to support men in their role as fathers, helping dads to understand and connect with their baby and partner, and increasing awareness of their influence on baby’s brain development. It also checks in on dad’s wellbeing, connecting them to professional support if needed.
Scott White is the PANDA Project Lead with SMS4. Prior to working with PANDA Scott was communications manager at the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network where he advocated strongly for evidence-based care and whole system improvements to mental health, Aboriginal health, chronic disease management and after-hours medical services.
Scott’s skill and experience in these areas complimented his work as Project Lead liaising between SMS4dads and PANDA to ensure SMS text messages related to perinatal mental health and wellbeing are delivered appropriately and with sensitivity.
Why should a Dad take the time to enroll in SMS4dads?
“The dads in control completely, and we’re just there offering some tips and ionformation and advice.” – Scott White
Dads can quickly and easily sign up to SMS4dads online via their website, answering a few brief questions to get started. As many dads are busy, the text-based service is non-intrusive, allowing dads to look at it when it suits them. The information and tips are relevant to the current development stage of their baby, as fathers include their expected delivery date on sign-up, providing free, relevant, and timely advice.
SMS4dads focuses on the importance of the dads role in their baby’s development, helping dads understand the impact they have on their baby. This service helps dads understand how to interact with their baby on a daily basis, and how they can begin interacting with their baby even before birth, as well as how they can support their partner.
What is the research and evidence behind SMS4dads and what’s on the horizon?
“92% are saying it’s relaly hepling in their role as a dad and over 80% are saying it is helping with their relationship with their partner.” – Scott White
Research shows that if dads are involved early on, and interacting with the baby, the baby responds and develops better. There is also research showing that a text-based message service has better engagement with dads. SMS4dads have, and continue to undertake many research projects to fine-tune and tailor the message service for various groups. The development of SMS4dads has been informed by a number of studies on supporting men transitioning to fatherhood, there feasibility of SMS messaging, internet and mobile-based interventions for Aboriginal families, and more. A
SMS4dads are recurrently undertaking research on fathers and miscarriage, how fathers can support new mothers, what First Nations dads want to know, lived experience of losing a baby, coping with a premature baby, the impact of dads involvement on infant development, and more. This research, in addition to collaboration with existing bodies such as Red Kite and PANDA, will inform the development of messaging for dads experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth, or a baby in the NICU or other complications.
Which health practitioners should know about SMS4dads?
Anyone interacting with parents in transition could benefit from being familiar with the SMS4dads service. They primarily focus on peri- and anti-natal health professions, such as midwives. However, any other health professional that might come across new or soon-to-be parents could recommend SMS4dads.
Visit the Lifeline website at https://www.sms4dads.com.au/
Read up on SMS4dads research and try out the SMS4dads sampler at https://www.sms4dads.com.au/for-professionals/
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