By Svend Aage Madsen, Head of Research, PhD
Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet
President of Men’s Health Forum, Denmark
International Journal of Men's Social and Community Health
Research shows that fathers’ perinatal depressions account for a pronounced part of the non-detected mental problems in men. By using adequate assessment tools deemed suitable for diagnosing male-specific symptoms, more men with mental problems will be detected and hopefully, get treated.
In Denmark, a growing number of fathers to be and new fathers are screened for perinatal depression. This count in 2019 for more than half of all men becoming fathers. And more will be added in the years to come.
At the same time, we are training the healthcare professionals such as home nurses and staff at maternity wards. The professionals in these areas need to become sensitive to gender-related conditions and the psychological state of fathers to identify and get in dialogue with men suffering from perinatal depression. This is supported by our work with “Father Ambassadors,” where right now half of all the municipalities in the country have appointed a “Father Ambassador” among their home nurses. In Denmark, home nurses serve 99.9% of all families who have given birth to a baby with four to five home visits during pregnancy and the child’s first year of life. Those appointed as ambassadors get special training in communicating with and understanding fathers and join specialist groups aimed at developing better services for fathers. Their job is to support and educate their colleagues to give better service to men as fathers.
In connection with these activities, we have developed a treatment guide for counsellors, psychologists and more working with men with perinatal depression.
The goal is to create good physical and emotional conditions for a father’s participation in preparation, delivery, and life with a new-born child including detecting and treating perinatal depression in men. These efforts can be important ways to strengthen father-infant-attachment and thus increase a father’s general participation in child-rearing and sharing responsibility with the mother. The whole family will benefit from this.