To (a) identify attitudinal barriers to help-seeking for mental health difficulties among fathers of young children; (b) explore the relationships between perceived barriers to help-seeking and mental health difficulties (i.e. depressive, anxiety, stress symptoms); (c) identify socio-demographic factors associated with barriers to help-seeking; and (d) identify fathers' preferences for mental health support.
One in 10 Australian fathers experience mental health difficulties in the early parenting period. Low rates of help-seeking and under-utilisation of health care services are key issues for the provision of mental health support to fathers at this important life stage.
The sample consisted of 154 fathers of young children (aged 0-8 years) participating in an Australian online survey on parent wellbeing and parenting. The Barriers to Help-Seeking Scale assessed fathers' attitudinal barriers to help-seeking for mental health support. Socio-demographic factors related to fathers' employment, education, and family composition were assessed.
The most common attitudinal barriers to help-seeking were: (a) the need for control and self-reliance in managing one's own problems, (b) a tendency to downplay or minimise problems, and (c) a sense of resignation that nothing will help. A range of demographic (i.e. age, educational attainment) factors were associated with these barriers. The most common preferences for support were internet-based information resources, followed by support provided by general practitioners and maternal child health nurses.
These findings have important implications for health promotion, health services and clinical approaches to promoting the health and wellbeing of fathers.