A study has revealed 10% of new fathers get depressed within six months of the birth of their child.
Research from Oxford University has found that fathers experiencing symptoms of their own post-natal depression is, sadly, a real problem.
The Oxford study interviewed fathers over an eight month period, starting just before their babies were born. It revealed that many of the fathers showed symptoms of depression within six months of their child being born.
Other studies believe the percentage of men who experience forms of post-natal depression to be even higher. For example, researchers from the UK Medical Research Council and University College London discovered that 21% of fathers experienced a depressive episode and found that this most frequently occurs during the first year after birth.
There is no single answer as to why men experience their own post-natal depression. Becoming a father presents new pressures for men. The challenges of becoming a dad could be contributing factors to why some men experience this.
First time fathers find that they have increased responsibilities. Many of the men in the study wanted to share roles with their partner, but struggled to do so.
Some of the fathers who were interviewed for the Oxford University research commented that many people held the opinion that men should be supporters to their families rather than parents to their babies. They communicated that work colleagues and health professionals held expectations that their role as a new father should be that of a bread-winner as opposed to a hands-on parent who does feeding and nappy changing.
These sorts of attitudes may be the reason some men find that their employers are less supportive of their desire to be involved in their child’s life at an early stage.
Taking advantage of the new Shared Parental Leave regime would allow eligible fathers to have up to 50 weeks off work (which can be shared with their partner). This could benefit many fathers who want to be more involved in caring for their baby during the early months of his/her life and allow them more time to create a strong bond with their child.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers are experts in Shared Parental Leave, paternity leave and maternity leave. We give advice on employment law issues, including family leave, and represent new fathers who have been victim to paternity discrimination at work.