Becoming a parent of a new baby, even if it’s not the first time, is a time of huge change.

Having a partner who also experiences perinatal mental health issues can be overwhelming, distressing and confusing.

Many dads in this situation feel like they have to be the main support in the family or fix everything. When they have this expectation they often put themselves last and run out of energy or personal resources.

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Hear one dad's experience with postnatal mental health issues, how he coped and how the family recovered.
Transcript: Finding it hard to cope​

Look after your wellbeing

Don’t forget to look after your own health and wellbeing. This can be as simple as ringing a mate or talking to a family member. Make time to eat, exercise and sleep.

You don’t have to deal with everything on your own. Ask for and accept help and support from family and friends.

If you find your stress level increasing or you feel your own mental health is deteriorating then speak to your GP. Men can also get perinatal anxiety and depression, there is help out there.

Did you know:

Depression affects 1 in 10 dads between the first trimester and the year after the baby’s birth.

Anxiety conditions affect 1 in 6 dads during the pregnancy and 1 in 5 in the postnatal period.

(From Beyond Blue)

Helpful links for dads

There are many ways you can look after yourself. Have a look at some of the different ways:

Talk to someone

If you need help, the Mental Health Line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The line is staffed by mental health professionals who can talk to you or refer you to a service.

Mental Health Line 1800 011 511

These telephone helpline services are also available 24/7:

Relationship issues

Having a baby is a joyous and exciting time. It can also be exhausting and stressful. It could be that you're both arguing more and behaving differently to when it was just the two of you. When you add a mental health issue to the mix, it can put a lot of strain on a relationship.

Try to take it in stride and have patience. If your partner is currently getting help for her perinatal mental health issues, you may need support for yourself. Talk to family and friends. Ask for support.

When your partner has recovered, it's a good idea to continue nurturing the relationship, just as you continue to nurture your baby. You may want to go to conselling or have couple's therapy. Here are some services that can help.

Relationship counselling services

  • Relationships Australia is and non-profit organisation that offer individual, couple and family counselling. Call them on 1300 364 277.
  • MensLine Australia is a national phone and online support, information and referral service for men with family and relationship concerns.Call them on 1300 78 99 78.
  • 1800RESPECT is a confidential phone counselling service for people affected by domestic or family violence and abuse, and sexual assualt. They are open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Call them on 1800 737 732. Their website also has good relationship advice.

Related links

What to tell your employer or work colleagues

You will need friends and family who can come and help take care of the baby. If that's not possible, you will need to take some time off work or arrange for flexible work hours.

Talk to your manager or human resources department to

  • negotiate paid sick leave
  • compassionate leave
  • or unpaid parental leave.

Work flexibility, leave;and finances

These links are helpful if you want to find out about parental or carer's leave, flexible work arrangements, and the Australian Government's Dad and Partner Pay. Same-sex parents and their families have the same entitlements as everyone else.

Although this resource is aimed at dads, the information is helpful for all new parents and carers regardless of gender, who are coping with perinatal mental illness.

Current as at: Wednesday 23 September 2020
Contact page owner: Mental Health Branch