Preconception factors associated with postnatal mental health and suicidality among first-time fathers: results from an Australian Longitudinal Study of Men’s Health
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Purpose: Prospective evidence about men at risk of postnatal difficulties is rare–particularly for postpartum suicidal ideation. This study aimed to determine the extent to which first-time fathers reported depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation and behaviours in the first postnatal year, and to identify preconception risk factors for postnatal mental health difficulties. Methods: Secondary analysis of data from The Ten to Men Study–Australia’s population-based prospective study of men’s health was conducted. Participants were 205 men who became first-time fathers in the 12 months prior to wave 2 (2015/16). Regression analyses were used to ascertain preconception (mental and physical health, lifestyle) and demographic factors associated with postnatal depressive symptoms. Results: Postnatally, 8.3% of fathers reported moderate to severe depressive symptoms, 5% had suicidal thoughts, 3% had plans, and less than 1% had attempted suicide. Preconception depressive symptoms was the only factor significantly associated with postnatal depressive symptoms. Conclusion: The transition into fatherhood is marked with significant psychological distress for some men. These results suggest that mental health screening and support in the preconception period is crucial to supporting the mental health of new fathers.
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Australian Research Council