Identifying depressed fathers during a home visit: why and how.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Child and Family Health Nursing, 2014, 11 (1), pp. 5 - 9 (5)
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
The knowledge and expertise required for child and family health nursing practice has continued to evolve as a consequence of research-based interventions and policy changes affecting families. The benefits of sustained home visiting on family health and wellbeing are now accepted and Australian trials have demonstrated improvements in maternal–infant attachment and mothers’ relationship with their child. At the level of clinical practice, best practice approaches for nurses visiting new mothers have moved away from delivering specific clinical procedures to focusing on the particular needs and circumstances of the parent and family, emphasising psychological support and health promotion in partnership and collaboration with parents. A particular focus on detecting postnatal maternal depression has arisen due to the development of the National Perinatal Depression Initiative. Child and family health nurses now regularly screen mothers using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Recent evidence of the impact of fathers’ depression on children and mothers has drawn attention to fathers’ mental health in the perinatal period. Fathers’ postnatal depression has been shown to impact on children’s development at similar levels to mothers’ and while children are most affected by two depressed parents, the effect of fathers’ depression is independent of mood disorder in the mother. Nurses making home visits have an opportunity to engage with fathers and many do so when the father is available. In this paper we present the evidence and rationale for assessing fathers’ depression or anxiety at the postnatal home visit.
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