Exploring fathers’ experiences of seeking support for postnatal depression
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Exploring fathers’ experiences of seeking support for postnatal depression

Caroline Davenport Health visitor and lecturer in nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Hull, Hull, England
Viren Swami Professor of social psychology, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, England and adjunct professor, Centre for Psychological Medicine, Perdana University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand the importance of recognising postnatal depression in fathers

  • To identify fathers’ barriers to, and motivators for, seeking support for postnatal depression

  • To consider how healthcare services could better support fathers experiencing postnatal depression

Background Many men tend to avoid seeking support for mental health issues and little is known about help-seeking among fathers who experience postnatal depression.

Aim To explore fathers’ help-seeking for postnatal depression, including barriers and motivators, and their experiences of informal support from partners and formal support from healthcare professionals.

Method Data were obtained through individual semi-structured interviews with eight fathers who self-identified as having experienced postnatal depression. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.

Findings Five themes emerged from the data analysis: not recognising postnatal depression; fatherhood expectations restricting postnatal depression disclosure; disappointment at the medicalised response to help-seeking; health visitors as a feared profession which excludes fathers; needing communication, validation and a safe space to talk.

Conclusion Some fathers need professional support for their mental health after the birth of their child. Nurses and health visitors should routinely ask fathers about their mental well-being, validate their feelings and encourage them to discuss their mental health issues with a healthcare professional.

Primary Health Care. doi: 10.7748/phc.2023.e1810

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Davenport C, Swami V (2023) Exploring fathers’ experiences of seeking support for postnatal depression. Primary Health Care. doi: 10.7748/phc.2023.e1810


The authors would like to thank Dr Craig Owen and Dr John Lambie for their assistance with this research

Published online: 16 November 2023

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