A counselling service for fathers with post-natal depression is to be piloted in Essex.
Whether men can suffer from postnatal depression has long been debated
Under the new scheme, fathers will be able to consult a group set up to help them cope with a condition usually associated with mothers.
The project, called Fathers Matter, will be set up in Basildon by
the South Essex Partnership NHS Trust.
It will begin in October and will be funded by a £3,500 grant from the Queen's
Nursing Institute, a charity which supports community health schemes.
The project will operate through a special helpline number, to be distributed
to all new fathers in the area in a leaflet called Fathers Matter, In Tune With
Trained volunteers will be on hand to provide confidential advice to
distressed fathers whose partners have recently given birth.
The men will also be invited to fortnightly help group meetings at the
Basildon office of mental health charity Mind.
Fathers Matter was the brainchild of Mary Alabaster, the manager of maternal
mental health services at the trust.
A spokesman for the trust said: "We are extremely proud of Mary and her
ground-breaking work, which showed that fathers weren't getting as much support
as they need.
"Pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby can be a stressful time for dads
"Mary's pilot scheme looks to give new fathers access to psychological
support and counselling.
"We hope this will lead to a nationwide network of counselling for male
The subject of whether men can suffer from postnatal depression has long been
debated among medical experts.