The mental health of new fathers is being overlooked despite evidence suggesting men might experience similar rates of depression to mothers after the birth of a child, experts have warned.
It is thought at least 10% of new mothers experience postnatal depression, figures could be higher as surveys have shown many women do not seek help or are not asked about their mental health after having a baby.
But recent studies have suggested that new fathers might experience depression at similar rates, and that such depression might affect various developmental outcomes for children as is thought to be the case for new mothers with postnatal depression.
New fathers, however, are generally not screened for mental health problems, and a survey of last year suggested the scale used to assess mothers for postpartum depression was not necessarily as accurate for men.
Speaking at the American Psychological Association convention, psychologists in the US have said that new fathers should be screened, as new mothers are supposed to be, for mental health problems.
“Fathers need to be seen as the partners that they are, and the family system is what needs to be assessed and treated any time there is a newborn coming into the home,” said Dr Sara Rosenquist, a psychologist based in North Carolina, adding that adoptive parents can also experience postnatal depression. Rosenquist added that men need access to suitable treatment if they have postnatal depression.
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