News

One in 10 men experience perinatal depression but few seeking treatment

One in 10 Australian dads experience perinatal depression or anxiety, but recent statistics reveal the number of fathers seeking help is dangerously low. St John of God Health Care’s Raphael Services has launched Build the Bond, a campaign to change that.

 Build the Bond

28 February 2019 

In 2017, St John of God Raphael Services provided counselling to almost 2,000 new parents suffering from perinatal anxiety or depression – less than 50 of them were men.

National Director for Raphael Services Helen McAllister noted there's a rise in the number of parents seeking support to cope with the significant life changes that come with parenthood, but very few of these are the dads.

“Perinatal depression and anxiety in dads isn’t often talked about, which can be isolating and make asking for help uncomfortable. We want to remind men that they aren’t alone,” she said

“All the education in the world can’t fully prepare you for parenthood because it’s such a personal journey.

“Dads focus on making everything safe and supportive but often they’re bottling up fear and stress in an effort to appear strong. At some point it’s too much, stress turns into anxiety and dads can’t be the partners or fathers they were trying so hard to be.”

The perinatal period refers to the time between conception and when the child has reached four years of age.

State Manager for Raphael Services WA, Donna Kristianopulos, says the Build the Bond campaign is about informing and empowering parents, and the communities around them.

“It’s so important for fathers to build a strong bond with their baby, in order for them and their families to thrive,“ she said.

“Build the Bond is a call to arms. Know the facts about perinatal depression and anxiety, and talk to your patients about it.”

“It is critical GPs understand the growing rates of perinatal depression and anxiety in dads and ask them directly how they are going as a new parent. All fathers need is a referral and a Mental Health Care Plan to receive treatment at no out-of-pocket cost.”

The services provide individual counselling, group therapy and psychiatric support during these transformative years and Ms McAllister says the program has a great success rate.

“80 per cent of our patients report significant improvement after seeking help from Raphael Services. They feel better informed, emotionally supported, and build stronger bonds with their baby and partner,” she said.

“Our services help dads acknowledge that their feelings are justified. We provide support and techniques to navigate through that tricky period,” she said.

“Head to www.sjog.org.au/buildthebond and join us in supporting our Aussie men to be strong and confident dads.”