The University of Newcastle, Australia

Helping new fathers beat the blues

Monday, 9 February 2015

Dr Richard Fletcher, a team leader within the Faculty of Health and Medicine's Family Action Centre, has received a grant of $300,000 over two years from Beyond Blue.

Dr Richard Fletcher awarded Beyond Blue research grant

The grant will assist new fathers who may be experiencing depression or anxiety during the perinatal period, that is, immediately before or after birth. This will be achieved by developing and piloting a smartphone-based messaging service (SMS) for new fathers, offering fathering information, mood assessment and support.

New fathers experiencing depression and/or anxiety in the perinatal period are often uninformed about the significance of their mental health. Disconnected from health services and informal supports, new fathers can be time poor and reluctant to attend groups. The Beyond Blue grant will allow SMS-based messages delivered through an app or to a new father's phone, to link them to tailored information and resources. It will also track their mood and respond to signs of significant distress, and connect fathers to services as well as to other dads facing similar challenges.

The impact of this project is that fathers will be better informed about their role in infant development. They will be more aware of the symptoms of perinatal depression and anxiety in men and women, and they will have access to avenues for mental health related assistance. Fathers' will engage better with their infants and will be able to provide more effective support for distressed partners, as well as seeking help for their own distress.

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