Postnatal Depression

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on Postnatal Depression Counselling for men.

Men to get Counselling for "Postnatal Depession." (8/24/03)

Men are to receive counselling for postnatal depression on the National Health Service. The first help group for fathers with the condition, previously thought to affect only mothers, will open this autumn.

Proponents of the service last week declared it a long overdue step towards an inclusive, caring society, while critics condemned it as the most absurd example of political correctness.

The service, "Fathers Matter", will be run in Basildon, Essex, by the South Essex Partnership NHS Trust and will be funded by a £3,500 grant from the Queen's Nursing Institute, a charity which supports community health projects.

From October, all new fathers in the town will be handed leaflets giving the number of a "fathers' helpline", allowing them to receive confidential counselling over the telephone. They will also be invited to attend fortnightly "support group" meetings at the Basildon office of Mind, the mental health charity.

Mary Alabaster, the manager of maternal mental health services at the trust who is in charge of the service, said she hoped that the Basildon example would spawn a nationwide counselling network for male postnatal depression.

Mrs Alabaster, 54, a qualified nurse, health visitor and counsellor, said that her own research suggested that male postnatal depression existed and was triggered by a wide variety of causes. She said last week: "It really has to be taken seriously.

"There has been lots of research that shows that fathers actually do suffer from postnatal depression, but people aren't actually doing anything about it.

She added: "For many years, fathers have had a raw deal, because the focus is on the mother. The hope is that there will now be more emphasis on the psychological needs of dads."

The leaflet, to be entitled Fathers Matter, In Tune With Dads, tells fathers: "There is nothing weak or effeminate about realising, as a man and a father, that you have thoughts and feelings you do not understand. Guilt, anger, sorrow and depression are all common. Parenthood in the 21st century is harder than ever."

The volunteers who will answer the telephones will be sent on a 10-week "supportive listening skills" course.

One volunteer, Ricky Goddard, 27, an unemployed chef from Basildon, said that he suffered from "serious postnatal depression" after the birth of his daughter, when he was 18. It culminated with him trying to kill himself by drinking a bottle of whisky and swallowing 100 paracetamol tablets.

He said last week: "Immediately after the birth, I was happy, but then you think of all the responsibilities. Within a few months things started going pear-shaped. I started drinking, trying to get out of my head. It didn't matter what it was - everything, bills, whatever - I couldn't deal with anything."

He added: "This sort of service should have been available a long time ago. There is a lot of ignorance. People just think you are stupid for saying postnatal depression. They think it's a woman's thing.

"A lot of people just tell you to get on with it, to get a job. I even went to a doctor once, and that's what she told me: go and get a job. For a doctor to say that, it's wrong, isn't it?"

In the past decade, some psychiatrists have claimed that men as well as women can suffer from postnatal depression and questioned the common theory that it is caused by female hormone changes.

Research studies have claimed that between 10 and 15 per cent of men suffer from postnatal depression, matching the proportion of female sufferers.

Last week, however, some psychiatrists scoffed at the claim that men could suffer from postnatal depression. Dr John Cobb, a fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the author of the book Baby Shock, said: "It sounds helpful for men to discuss the problems that they are having. It is also true that men may well get depressed after their wives have a baby, but this is the same as any other form of depression.

"It is not postnatal depression. In women, postnatal depression is a separate entity from other types of depression because it involves major hormonal factors and major physical factors."

Dr Liam Fox, the shadow health secretary, said: "Whatever next? We have pleaded with the Government to improve mental health services, but postnatal depression in men? This is political correctness gone mad. Postnatal depression is a real phenomenon, in women. Fathers don't go through the process of giving birth."

Source: Adam Lusher and Brian Welsh,  

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