Those of you who have followed my work over the past 25 years of devolution, will know I am passionate about the mental health of children and young people.

I've said many times that if there's a silver bullet in mental health it's the early years and I don't think you can over emphasise the importance of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life – the building blocks to children’s wellbeing and future success.

So, it was really great to be invited to join the final session of the For Dads by Dads course run by Torfaen Council.

It is the fifth time the council has run the course and I have heard a lot about it, so it was a real privilege to witness it for myself and learn more about how it has helped Torfaen fathers be the best dads they can be.

The 10-week programme, delivered by the Torfaen Sports Development team, is designed to help new and expectant dads with children up to the age of 18 months. It includes weekly workshops and talks covering a wide range of subjects, such as health and wellbeing, diet and nutrition, midwife and health visitor information, psychology; and gambling and gaming

The course, held in Pontypool Active Living Centre, has been devised following research by a number of organisations, including Fathers Outreach, Tidy Butt, Gwent Psychology, Recoveries 4 All and Newport County in the Community.

The course provides opportunities for fathers to share experiences, build a network of support and tackle the challenges that come with fatherhood.

And that support matters. Research in the British Journal of Midwifery recently showed that one in 10 fathers are affected by post-natal depression, which is about the same rate as mothers.

On the evening I joined them, along with some other guests, we started with a walk in Pontypool Park and ended with a talk from Matthew Creel and Spencer O’Connell from Tidy Butt, a Gwent-based mental health charity.

It was clear to see the programme had created a safe space where dads felt happy and able to ask questions and learn about themselves and their children as they started on their journey of being a dad.

I would like to thank the team behind Dads for Dads, who will be running a new course in September, for enabling these dads to grow in confidence and invest in both their own futures and the futures of their children.

As I said at the start, the first 1,000 days of child’s life are key building blocks and it is important we do everything we can to ensure our children get the support they need to thrive. Thank you Dads for Dads.