The NHS is to offer mental health checks for new dads and dads-to-be if their partner is suffering anxiety, depression or serious disorders such as psychosis.
Partners of women who are seriously ill will also be offered a range of help including peer-support, behavioural couples therapy sessions and other family and parenting interventions in specialist community perinatal mental health settings.
It’s part of NHS plans to offer more support to couples who are experiencing conditions such as postnatal depression.
BACP has welcomed the announcement and is pleased the NHS has acknowledged the need to support both parents.
Martin Bell, BACP’s deputy head of policy and public affairs, said:
“Support for new mums and mums-to-be is rightly recognised. It’s good to see this extended to dads as well, when their partner is experiencing mental health problems.
“We know talking therapies can help people experiencing emotional distress. There is increasing acknowledgement of the importance of the 1001 critical days from when a baby is conceived until age two on a child’s life chances.
“Providing counselling and other support to new parents can be an important early intervention to ensure babies have the best start in life.
“We hope this announcement is a starting point to ensure support is available for all families at a time that should be full of happiness for parents, but can sometimes be very difficult.”
About one in 10 men experiences mental illness in the first six months after the birth of a baby.
While about one in five women are affected during or after pregnancy.
BACP member Pat Seber spent many years working with women with post-natal depression.
She said: “We think a lot about the woman’s physical, emotional and mental health – but having a baby throws up issues for men too. We often forget about that scenario.
“It may throw them back to issues from their childhood. Some men don’t feel good enough, they don’t think they are doing enough to support, they may feel there are a lot of expectations that it’s very hard for them to meet. Some men may just not be equipped to support a new baby and their partner.
“There are lots of things, especially if they are supporting a partner who has mental health problems, that can lead to depression.
“It could be the case of just asking a few helpful questions of a new dad to understand how they are feeling. We have tools to recognise post-natal depression in women, there are simple things we can do to find out how men are affected too.”
To seek advice or help about mental health issues you can find a BACP counsellor or psychotherapist at BACP’s Therapist Directory.