Dads do get de­pres­sion

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - FAMILY LIVING -

It is the hidden scourge of fa­ther­hood. And though it is not widely un­der­stood, it has be­come in­creas­ingly ap­par­ent that men can also fall vic­tim to ante- and post-natal de­pres­sion. And while the num­bers aren’t as great as they are for women, it could be as high of 10 per cent of new dads.

“We have been look­ing at this for a while but it isn’t widely recog­nised and dads don’t think about it ei­ther,” says As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Richard Fletcher from the Univer­sity of New­cas­tle’s Fam­ily Ac­tion Cen­tre.

Be­yond­blue Fam­i­lies Project Man­ager Dr Luke Martin agrees, say­ing: “This is a young area but in the past five years or so we have been able to con­firm that dads ex­pe­ri­ence de­pres­sion.”

They just don't know it. Martin notes that a Be­yond­blue sur­vey of new dads in 2015 showed more than half were un­aware of that they might be vul­ner­a­ble to de­pres­sion.

“The na­ture of men­tal health is that de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety will oc­cur at times of stress,” he says.

“Past gen­er­a­tions would have ex­pe­ri­enced de­pres­sion as well, but the mod­ern dad faces some unique and ex­tra stresses.

“There is a lot of pres­sure in be­com­ing a dad in this day and age — there’s the provider role, ques­tions around what is the fa­ther’s role com­pared to their wives, all kinds of things.”

But whereas women will have con­stant con­tact with var­i­ous med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als be­fore and af­ter giv­ing birth — which as­sists an early in­ter­ven­tion — with men the prob­lem can of­ten go un­no­ticed

In part­ner­ship with Be­yond­blue, Fletcher and the Fam­ily Ac­tion Cen­tre have been run­ning a trial pro pro­gram called SMS4­dads, which uses text mes­sage mes­sages to help im­prove the men­tal health of new fath fa­thers.

“We think SMSes are a re­al­is­tic way (of reach­ing out) as dads run off back to work,” Marti Martin says.

The mes­sages, which land four times a we week, of­fer lit­tle tips to fa­ther­ing as well as ad ad­vice on ways a dad should look af­ter h him­self and his re­la­tion­ship with his p part­ner.

There are plans to even­tu­ally roll it out on a larger scale but Martin says more needs to be done on a lo­cal.

“There isn’t re­ally a lot of sup­port for d dads be­cause it is very much tai­lored to to­wards mums’ needs and that’s im im­por­tant but this is too,” he says.

Pen­rith Pan­thers star Sam McKendry, with wife Kir Kirsten and their chil­dren Isla and Is­sac. Pic­ture Pic­ture: Richard Dob­son

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