Paternal mental health in the transition to parenthood

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

Background and aim
The high prevalence of paternal perinatal depression and the well-established adverse impacts on all family members, highlights the need for interventions which can reduce paternal symptoms of depression and improve family wellbeing. Recent policy to assess the mental health needs of partners of women with perinatal mental health disorders provides a unique opportunity to detect difficulties and intervene to support fathers. However, there are no existing interventions which meet the needs of fathers with mental health problems in the perinatal period. The aim of this thesis is to address this gap in provision by developing an outline for a CBT-based intervention for mild to moderate symptoms of paternal perinatal depression.
Methods
Mixed methods were used to identify the key components and targets of an intervention. This included synthesising quantitative evidence on interventions for paternal perinatal mental health; collecting novel interview data from men with multiple risk factors for poor mental health; gathering the views of clinical and academic experts in the field; and drawing this data together to describe a CBT-based intervention for mild to moderate symptoms of paternal perinatal depression.
Results
Based on data from the studies in this thesis, a detailed description of the intervention was developed, which included consideration of the overall format, aspects of delivery, and main content. Key adaptations to standard CBT models included framing content around fatherhood, focusing on building healthy relationships with the baby and partner, and enhancing flexibility in adherence to masculine norms.
Conclusions
Specific adaptations to existing CBT interventions are needed to meet the needs of fathers with paternal perinatal depression. Research in this thesis indicates that these adaptations are necessary for improved accessibility, acceptability and engagement across the perinatal period. The intervention outline described in the thesis provides a foundation for further stages of development of the first CBT intervention targeted at fathers with perinatal depression. If found to be effective, this intervention could provide an important source of support for fathers and has the potential to improve wellbeing for all family members.
Date of Award1 Aug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorKylee Trevillion (Supervisor)

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