Best Start Grant to target mental health services for new dads

Wednesday 31 March 2021

Did you know up to one in 10 new dads struggle with postnatal depression?

You’re not alone if you answered no, as it’s a little-known fact. What’s more, perinatal mental health services are generally only provided to new mothers while the other half of the family unit is ignored, until now…

The focus will soon be extended to new fathers and partners, thanks to research led by Mater Psychiatrist, Dr Julanne Frater.

As one of the four winners of the inaugural Mater Family Wellbeing Service Best Start Grant, Dr Frater’s research, “The Other Half”, will focus on potential interventions for fathers (and partners) experiencing mental health difficulties during or after their partner’s pregnancy.

“Recent evidence suggests that better outcomes for families and infants occur when mental health issues are addressed in both parents, not just the mother.

“We’re excited to further explore this in our own clinical research and be able to contribute to the new Mater Wellbeing Service’s focus of giving the whole family unit the best possible start,” Dr Frater said.

The aim of this research is to establish pilot data to check the feasibility of a randomised controlled trial in collaboration with the National Health and Medical Research Council Queensland Family Cohort Study, which looks at the health and mental health of 10 000 families across Queensland.

“Using grant funding, our research will identify evidence-based, cost-effective interventions for partners who have perinatal mental health concerns. We will then use this information to develop a partner-focused assessment and intervention pathway for families as part of routine care.

“From there, we’ll test this in a small pilot study to assess the effectiveness and feasibility of the intervention, and if successful we hope to use this in the larger Queensland Family Cohort Study,” she said.  

With the support of The Rotary Club Brisbane, the Mater Family Wellbeing Service Best Start Grant has been established to foster research and educational activities that will have an immediate, direct and positive impact on achieving the service’s aims.

The grant provides funding to support project staff salaries, direct project costs and education or training expenses for clinical research.

The Mater Family Wellbeing Service will be established in ‘Catherine’s House’, the soon to be refurbished convent on Mater’s South Brisbane campus, with plans to expand beyond South East Queensland in future.

The service will provide specialist perinatal and infant mental health services for women and their families across a spectrum of care and treatment options from preconception through to pregnancy, birth and into the postnatal period. It will offer services and care that promote wellness, parental mental health, healthy relationships and child development.

Want to find out more about mental health services at Mater? Please visit Mater Mothers’ or Mater Emotional Health Unit websites.