Dads do get depression
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