Approximately one in 10 fathers experience mental health difficulties in the early years of parenting, yet there is a dearth of evidence-based interventions to promote fathers' mental health at this time. Therefore, the aims of this study were: (1) to obtain preliminary data on the short-term changes in mental health symptoms and parenting self-efficacy for fathers of young children (aged 0-4 years) participating in Working Out Dads (WOD) and (2) to explore fathers' experiences of participation in WOD.
The sample consisted of 57 fathers who had at least one child aged between 0 and 4 years. Participants completed pre- and post- measures to assess the severity of depressive, anxiety and stress symptoms and parenting self-efficacy. A brief survey of fathers' experiences in WOD was also completed.
There was a significant reduction in fathers' reports of depressive and stress symptoms from pre- to post-intervention, and no significant change in anxiety symptoms. Parenting self-efficacy significantly increased from pre- to post-intervention. All changes were associated with moderate to large effect sizes. Fathers indicated that they were satisfied with the programme and that they were more confident in managing the stress of parenting and in their overall role as a father.
This is the first study to evaluate WOD and provides promising preliminary evidence for its short-term effects on fathers' mental health and parenting self-efficacy. Pilot results are positive and are a critical first step, informing the design of a more robust evaluation in the future.