Post-natal depression among fathers must be addressed, academic says

Research finds one in 10 Irish fathers is likely to experiences depression after birth of child

Greater efforts should be made to raise awareness of post-natal depression among Irish fathers, according to the author of report into the subject. Photograph: Thinkstockphoto

Greater efforts should be made to raise awareness of post-natal depression among Irish fathers, according to the author of report into the subject. Photograph: Thinkstockphoto

 

Greater efforts should be made to raise awareness of post-natal depression among Irish fathers, according to the author of report into the subject.

The study which found that one in 10 fatherse xperiences depression after the birth of their child. Speaking after the publication of his research, Lloyd Philpott says the wider community must now sit up and take notice of the issue if solutions are to be found.

“The first thing that needs to be done is bring about awareness of the problem. It’s like mental health in general, there can be stigma attached to talking about mental health issues, so to bring in awareness with health care professionals as well as the general public is important,” he told The Irish Times.

“Traditionally, people viewed this as a result of biological factors, whereas recent research is showing that psycho-social factors impact on it, as well on the mental health of both mother and father in the post-natal period,” he said.

The UCC researcher said while mothers go through a more rigorous screening process for post-natal depression, it can be a difficult topic to broach with their male partners.

“Mothers would be routinely screened in the community, and it’s acknowledged and discussed in the post-natal period. When a public health nurse goes to do a first visit, one of the things that would be on the list would be mentioning post-natal depression,” said Mr Philpott, who conducted his research among 100 fathers in the Cork area.

In addition, his findings demonstrated that a lack of statutorily-enshrined paternity leave for fathers was a contributory factor for cases of post-natal depression.

“Often, fathers may not even be at that first visit, because they could be gone back to work. That’s one of the things that I find quite interesting- fathers who didn’t receive paternity leave had an increased risk of post-natal depression,” he said.

According to the report, which was co-authored by UCC colleague Dr Paul Corcoran, there was a markedly higher instance of depression for certain professions.

Two-thirds of chefs who took part in the survey registered scores which showed them to be at risk, a finding which may prove indicative of the negative effects of late night, irregular shift work on paternal relations, according to Mr Philpott.

“There is research to say that the type of work has an influence on fathers’ risk of post-natal depression. A lot of the time, increased interaction with the child helps to decrease that risk,” he said.