Post Natal Depression and Fathers
The Postnatal Adjustment Programme (PNAP) is run by Plunket Society Canterbury; services for fathers within the programme provided by Father & Child Trust (Christchurch)
The Father & Child Trust has been involved in PNAP since its beginnings in late 1999. The programme provides an eight week group and/or home support for postnatally depressed women. The Trust’s involvement has consisted of facilitating a partner evening as part of the eight-week project since February 2000.
Since May 2001 the Father & Child Trust / Plunket collaboration has been part of a funding contract with the Ministry of Health, which includes the partner evening facilitation, but also home support for the partners of post natally depressed women. Although not strictly part of the contract, the programme also deals with post natally depressed men.
Both the partner evening as well as home visits target these issues:
- adjustment issues for men becoming fathers
- social expectations about fatherhood
- relationship issues during the transition into parenthood
- support for partner; support for themselves; support for the relationship
- how to help their partners through the depression and facilitate the healing process
- managing the impact of the depression on the relationship and the child(ren)
The transition to fatherhood is a substantial change in a man’s life, and one which fundamentally changes his role in the family. Some men struggle with these changes, which can impact on their mental health.
A new father may find himself unable to relate properly to his baby (even if he had children before), be negligent about work commitments, be irritable, delay coming home from work, seek more solitude than usual, feel guilty about his small contribution, feel superfluous within the mother-baby harmony or stop socialising – any of these symptoms can indicate that adjustment problems have developed into depression.
More on Post Natal Depression:
Riding Out the Change (Article in F&C#15)
Father’s Mental Health (Article in F&C#20)