A recent study review from Curtin University has revealed new mental health statistics show children have a 42 per cent increased risk of depression if their father also suffers from the condition.
The head of Curtin’s School of Population Health, and senior author of the report Professor Rosa Alati says the most important thing people should take away from the study is how much paternal depression matters.
“We found a significant association between the mental health of the fathers and that of their children,” she says.
“If the fathers have more severe mental health problems, this increases the risk for worse mental health problems in their children.
“In the past we have concentrated on the mental health of mothers and females in general. We know there’s a lot of interest in looking at maternal depression during pregnancy for example. [Now we know] how important it is to keep in consideration the men and fathers,” Professor Alati says.
She says the findings could actually be the result of more positive steps in parenting.
“Fathers are more present in the lives of their children [than they once were], there haven’t been many studies in the past that have looked at this topic. It’s possible that this has always been the case, but we’ve only just started to look at this now,” she says.
The review comes after almost two-decades worth of studies surveying more than 7 million pairs of fathers and their children.
Professor Alati says she hopes the new findings will encourage further funding and support for men’s mental health treatment.
“It is important to acknowledge and talk about it, so that those who experience it don’t feel that they are alone,” she says.
One organisation seeking to alleviate Aussie men’s mental health issues is the Men’s Shed Association, providing shared spaces for men to get together and bond.
Ron Wilson is a regular at the Melville Men’s Shed, and says he loves the sense of community he finds there.
“We come here for a bit of company. Drinking tea and chatting – it’s camaraderie,” he says.
“As you get older, you tend to get grumpier. You don’t mean to.
“This place has flourished because it fills a need. It fills a void in your life.”
Tom Phillips is a father of two and says despite its challenges, fatherhood has changed his life for the better.
“10 out of 10 recommend,” he says. “Of course it has its challenges, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.
“You’re there to support them in whatever challenges they’re having, whether it’s something going on with a friend at school or just feeling down. Being there to support and give them love.”