Numerous studies have been conducted on mothers’ health, especially looking at its effects on their home lives.
What is less known are facts about fathers’ mental health and how it specifically impacts their children.
A survey published in Parenting Today in Victoria found that one in five dads have experienced symptoms of depression and/or anxiety since having children.
This data shows that a great deal of dads are struggling with their mental health.
The survey looked at a wide spectrum of parents, 40% of which were fathers. 18% of dads reported they had experienced symptoms of depression and 19% had symptoms of anxiety.
Of those who reported depression since becoming a parent, 9% said this included post-natal depression and 3% had serious levels of current psychological distress.
Researchers wanted to know why there was an alarmingly high number of distressed dads. So, they dug deeper and looked into parents’ lifestyles, considering attributing factors like genetic predisposition, their relationship with their partners and children, and how their family functions.
They found that fathers not in full-time paid work and fathers who had a child with a medical condition or a learning difficulty were more likely to have poorer mental health.
And fathers with this mental instability were less likely to feel like they were a ‘good parent’.
The study was able to link two key factors that affected how a dad felt about his parenting skills - frequency of father–child activities and parenting approach.
Fathers who did activities more often with their children felt they had a more positive parenting approach.
However, those with lower self-efficacy were more inclined to yell at and argue with their children quite a lot. These dads felt guilty for being too critical of their children.
This could be attributed to the lack of support they perceive in the parenting community as most fathers feel unwelcome in parenting groups.
Also, research proved that less dads feel that they have someone to turn to for parenting advice when compared to mums. The study urged that “how well parents support each other is crucial.”
Parents’ mental health is a vital factor to a happy home life, and it is so important that partners are supporting each other and encouraging one another daily.
Being a mum or a dad is one of the hardest jobs out there, but it is that much easier when you have someone to lean on and lift you up.
Researchers urge fathers to set up a good support system and express their anxieties openly with their partners. This could make all the difference to not only improve dads’ own health but improve children’s home life experiences as well.