Paternal Mental Health: Why Is It Relevant?

Sheehan D. Fisher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Father’s mental health is an emerging area of interest that is beginning to be recognized in research, and to a lesser extent in clinical practice and society. Fathers are part of a parenting dyad with 2 partners who are responsible for their children’s emotional development. Similar to mothers, the risk for mental health problems increases once a male becomes a father, but there is limited research examining this issue. The purpose of this review is to present the available literature on father’s mental health and its effect on child emotional health through various mechanisms. In general, father’s mental health was found to be related to increased child internalizing and externalizing behaviors, but each disorder had different risk factors, and a unique effect on parenting behaviors and the child’s emotional health. The most developed paternal mental health literature is focused on depression. However, key conceptual and methodological problems exist that may limit our understanding of paternal depression. Additionally, the focus on paternal depression may not accurately represent the largest risk for paternal psychopathology and the resultant child mental health outcomes because men have an increased likelihood of displaying externalizing behaviors. Implications for research, clinical practice, and policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-211
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2017


  • child behavior
  • fathers
  • mental health
  • parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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