Today (June 18th) is International Fathers’ Mental Health Day.
Dads’ mental health matters too, yet this area is woefully under researched.
Research from the NCT has found that just over 1 in 3 new Dads have concerns about their mental health. Others studies have suggested that 5-10% of Dads experience depression during the perinatal period (conception to 1 year post-birth) and 5-15% experience anxiety disorders (Paulson et al., 2010; Leach et al. al., 2015). However, these figures may be an underestimate, as other studies have found that men underreport mental health difficulties and tend not to use mental health language (e.g. words like “depression” or “anxiety”) to describe heir difficulties.
A study by Darwin and colleagues (2017) found that Dads talk about increased “stress” in the perinatal period and found it hard to work out whether it was a lack of sleep or a change in mood that was causing their “stress”. This study also found that Dads tended to gloss over their own suffering so as to not put pressure on their partner. It was reported that Dads felt quite stressed about “being a good father” and what this meant. Dads also felt that they had a lack of support networks in the perinatal period, as most Mum and baby groups and services are set up for Mothers, with less focus on Fathers.
It is therefore important for us to remember that both Mums and Dads find pregnancy and having a new baby difficult, but that they may talk about it differently and they may need different kinds of help to support them during this time.
Check out a great resource for Dads here: http://www.fromdadstodads.org.uk
By Dr Chloe Thompson-Booth- soon to be offering some pretty needed services at DILAM HQ