Looking after an infant is often a challenge for both parents. It is increasingly recognised that postnatal depression and other perinatal mental illnesses and disorders can be experienced by men as well as women. We now understand that becoming a father and experiencing fatherhood can be a stressful and isolating experience. It is quite possible that the increased
pressures of fatherhood – which mean little sleep, extra responsibilities, greater financial challenges, and changes in relationships and lifestyles – will all affect the father’s mental
Research has shown that one in 10 new fathers suffer from postnatal depression, very similar to the figure for new mothers. Once education, universal assessment and screening processes are introduced, this figure will no doubt be higher – I believe that the figure for
mothers has increased now that they are being routinely assessed, and this is supported by Wisner et al’s (2013)9 finding that almost 22% of women suffer from postnatal depression during the first year postpartum – thus highlighting the need for much more to be done to
support fathers in the perinatal period.
Although it is still early days, there is already anecdotal evidence that the Covid-19 pandemic,and the resultant limitations imposed on ‘normal life’, have made paternal postnatal
depression worse. As research increases around paternal mental health, we feel that we have sufficient evidence to lead to a change in policies and protocols by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to
include fathers’ mental health. We want the WHO Commissioners to understand the importance of “Think Family”, to include and support all parents during the perinatal period.
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