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The impact of inaccessibility to information and support on paternal mental health

Gheyoh Ndzi, Ernestine and Holmes, Amy (2024) The impact of inaccessibility to information and support on paternal mental health. Journal of Men's Health, 20 (5). pp. 57-67.

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The mental well-being of men undergoing the transition into fatherhood remains a focal point in public health discourse. In the United Kingdom, fathers encounter limited access to information and support compared to mothers, prompting an exploration of their experiences and the consequential impact on their mental health throughout the stages from pregnancy to post-birth. This study conducted twenty semi-structured interviews with fathers residing in York. Utilizing Zoom, the interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis. All participants were part of a dual-parent nuclear family unit. The overarching themes of insufficient information and support permeated the findings, with variations in the type of support and information needed and their respective effects on fathers’ mental health evident across the pre-birth, birth and post-birth stages. Throughout these stages, discernible shifts in expectations regarding the perceived role of the father and the ensuing challenges to their mental health were observed. Fathers expressed limited engagement, often cast merely as birth partners, and directed on what to do during birth, with scant acknowledgment of their individual challenges. The constraints imposed by Covid-19 restrictions were reported to intensify the sense of isolation during the transition, exacerbating the impact on fathers’ mental health. The study identifies the diverse challenges fathers encounter at different stages of transitioning into fatherhood and underscores the necessity for tailored access to information and support. While the study is grounded in the experiences of fathers in York, the participants conveyed shared concerns about broader structural and cultural impediments that hinder a meaningful and supportive transition into fatherhood.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.22514/jomh.2024.071
School/Department: York Business School
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/10135

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