The statistics of mothers who have experienced postnatal depression have always been well publicised, but new research has shed light on how fathers are being affected by the illness.
A conference on nursing and midwifery has heard how up to 12% of fathers are affected by paternal postnatal depression.
Recent research found that postnatal depression affects 20% of new mothers, but this latest research has shown that paternal postnatal depression is currently under-diagnosed and under-treated.
While the exact cause of the illness has not been established, the conference heard that sleepless infants, poor economic circumstances, a lower level of education, and a history of depression are contributory factors.
Interestingly, the lack of provision for paternity leave was also found to contribute to the illness. With the proposal to provide two weeks paid paternity leave under the Family Leave Bill, this latest finding should provide plenty food for thought for the Government in their deliberations.
The argument for paternity leave aside, it is clear that more awareness and support needs to be made available on the subject of paternal postnatal depression.