Social problems that exist today are inflamed by fathers not being supported properly throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. There is an apparent “snowball effect” beginning with early untreated emotional problems early on and ending with as one or several greater problems such as substance abuse, time spent in prison time, and unemployment. The lack of support early on for fathers leads to increased stress and emotional disturbances early on in pregnancy. These untreated disturbances lead into perinatal and postpartum depression. Unaddressed depression or mental health problems can lead to increased substance abuse, unemployment, physical health issues, and possible criminal convictions.
Studies have demonstrated that fathers who are depressed are significantly more likely to be unemployed, poor physical health, have spent time in jail, or have abused substances in the past month compared with fathers who are not depressed (Bronte, Moore, Matthews, & Carrano, 2007; Stover, Urdahl, & Easton, 2012; Rosenthal, Learned, Liu, & Weitzman, 2013). These studies illustrate the connection between father’s mental health and other issues such as substance abuse, employment difficulties, and criminal history.
The prevalence of depressive symptoms for fathers increases by more than six times when unemployed. Fathers also tend to have higher rates of experiencing both depression and substance abuse. However, recent studies are finding that depression to be a significant mediator of paternal substance use and negative parenting behaviors. It is important to address depression to decrease substance abuse issues; furthermore, providing support early to fathers experiencing emotional disturbances and adjustment issues before growing into more severe issues.