As we know fatherhood has changed in recent years, there are many more single dads and stay at home fathers than ever before. Fathers are now more actively involved in their children’s day to day lives.
For many the transition into fatherhood is a very joyful experience, however for some it can also be a very stressful time that can trigger mental health issues.
What is really alarming is that many fathers are more at risk of suicide during the perinatal period than at any other time in their life (Quevedo 2011). If fathers are not supported at this important time, it can have a massive impact on the whole family and on the development of the child.
Antenatal perinatal mental health education for dads is the way forward. Fathers need to be educated about how their mental health can be affected by becoming a dad and what they can do to get help and support for themselves and their family. Fathers also need to be educated about the signs to look out for which indicate that their partner may have perinatal mental health concerns. Supporting both mums and dads at this critical time is essential.
Unfortunately, at the moment fathers are not screened for their mental health, only mums. However, like some mothers, some fathers have a past history of trauma, anxiety and depression before they become a parent. The lack of sleep associated with looking after a new born and the transition into fatherhood can cause anxiety and depression too.
Movember in 2019 reported that one in five British fathers felt totally isolated during their first year of fatherhood. The National Childbirth Trust said in 2015 that 38 percent of dads had struggled with their mental health and 73 percent were worried about their partner’s mental health.
Fathers witnessing a traumatic birth can suffer with PTSD, an anxiety disorder that is brought on by either witnessing or experiencing a life threating event, this can vary from mild or moderate to severe.