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A Must-Read on Supporting Expectant and New Dads’ Mental Health

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May 28, 2024
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As human service organizations have become more aware of the need to address dads’ mental health, National Fatherhood Initiative® has created resources and provided guidance that address this underserved need.

The guidance includes sharing research on this vital topic. In that vein, I recently ran across a must-read commentary about considering dads’ mental health as part of efforts to improve perinatal outcomes for moms and babies. The authors point out the lack of this consideration ignores the evidence of the positive impact dads have on maternal and child health when they actively support pregnant and postpartum moms.

The authors provide an outstanding review of the evidence of this positive impact. Moreover, they cover the state of research on expectant and new dads’ mental health. This review lays the foundation for the authors’ call for increased attention to the mental health of dads during this critical time. Specifically, that perinatal initiatives and programs at the local, state, and national levels must start supporting dads’ mental health.

The authors make the following recommendations for each level:

  • Local
    • “Forge multisector partnerships at the city and county levels to promote inclusion of fathers in child and family services.”
    • “Invest in the necessary training and capacity building to equip professionals within prenatal an early childhood services to facilitate and strengthen fathers’ engagement.”
  • State
    • “Establish a state entity tasked with improving outcomes for children and families by supporting fathers in their roles as parents, partners, and addressing paternal perinatal mental health.”
    • “Include fathers in defining state-level maternal and child health priorities, such as improving perinatal mental health.”
  • National
    • “Raise awareness of the prevalence, presentation, consequences, and management of paternal PMAD [perinatal mood and anxiety disorder] among national associations and call for routine mental health screenings for all expectant and new parents, inclusive of no-birthing parents.”
    • “Establish ongoing, equitable national data collection practices that capture the experiences and behaviors of fathers.”

As your organization considers how to address dads’ mental health, I encourage you to learn more about the differences in men’s and women’s healthcare-seeking behavior and its impact on how proactively dads approach their mental healthcare. Our Three Steps For Dads To Care For Their Mental Health brochure takes these differences into account. It’s become one of our most sought-after resources. Plus, several other NFI brochures build dads' skills in co-parenting, conflict resolution, work-family balance, and other areas that help dads manage their mental health more effectively.

I also encourage you to download and read the commentary. NFI has the capacity-building resources and collaborative services to help entities at the local, state, and national levels equip professionals around father engagement and customize their approaches to implementing the authors’ other recommendations.

What is your organization doing to proactively address dads’ mental health generally and during the perinatal period specifically?

Do you need a customized approach to address any of the authors’ recommendations? If so,
contact us to learn more about how our collaborative services can help.

How to Mobilize Your City. County, or State Around Responsible Fatherhood

Topics: fatherhood research, Featured, General Fatherhood Program Resources, NFI-Specific Programs & Resources, General Fatherhood Research & Studies, Tips & Tricks, mental health

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