Fathers’ depression ‘harms young’

BBC News 3 May 09

Children whose fathers have mental health disorders are likely to have psychiatric or behavioural disorders themselves, researchers warn. University of Oxford experts reviewed existing evidence and said, in the Lancet, there had been too much focus on mothers’ mental health issues. They said boys in particular could be affected if their father had depression or was an alcoholic. Mental health campaigners said men often had problems seeking help.

The Oxford team said it was not surprising much of researchers’ emphasis had focused on mothers as, in most societies, it is mothers who provide the majority of childcare – particularly when children are very young. But they said the role of men had been “underemphasised” and that they had more influence on their children’s development than previously thought. In addition, the peak age for men to be affected by psychiatric disorders is the same as the peak age for becoming a father – between 18 and 35.