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Experiences and Understandings of Paternal Postnatal Depression

Project Description

Until recently, postnatal mental health was viewed as a women’s issue. However fathers are now increasingly involved in childcare. Research suggests that the transition to fatherhood can trigger mental health problems in fathers, with about 5-10% of first-time fathers experiencing postnatal depression – similar to rates in new mothers and about twice the rate of the general male population. This places a heavy burden on national economies (estimated at about £10,000 per father-child dyad in the UK) and has far-reaching impacts, most notably in terms of the suffering it induces in men themselves (e.g., elevated risk of self-harm and suicide). Paternal postnatal depression also negatively affects father-infant attachment and has longer-term impacts on child developmental outcomes (e.g., elevated risk of child behavioural difficulties). It is important to consider postnatal mental health in terms of the family unit. However the experiences of fathers remain marginalised both in terms of empirical research and practical policy.

This project will help provide a better understanding of the lived experience of distress in fathers during the postnatal period, including how men present differently with distress, how symptoms manifest, the time-course of distress, and the barriers and facilitators to seeking and accessing help. It will employ innovative qualitative research methods to investigate:

1. The lived experiences of fathers who are experiencing / have experienced psychological distress during the postnatal-period;
2. The experiences and views of men’s partners, so as to explore help-seeking attitudes, support needs, and entry pathways into mental healthcare from a family-systemic perspective;
3. The perspectives of mental health practitioners who are likely to come into contact with fathers, to better understand ways of improving access, care, and pathways to recovery.

Our overall objective is to utilise research-informed experiences to support the entry of distressed fathers into therapeutic pathways and inform practical policy at both local and national levels aimed at reducing the marginalisation of fathers in care pathways.

To discuss the research project, please contact

Candidate requirements

Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants are expected to hold, or about to obtain, a minimum upper second-class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in a cognate discipline. A Masters degree in a relevant subject is desirable.


You can apply via our landing page We will review all applications after the submission deadline of 9 February. Applications missing the project reference number will be rejected as will applications for multiple studentships.

If you have any queries relating to the application process or the terms and conditions of the studentships, please contact Becky Kraszewski on 01245 684920, or email .

Documentation required

You will also need the following documents available electronically to upload them to the application portal (we can accept files in pdf, jpeg or Word format):

1) Certificates and transcripts from your Bachelor and Masters degrees, (if applicable)
2) Your personal statement explaining your suitability for the project
3) Passport and visa (if applicable)
4) English Language qualifications (if applicable)
5) Curriculum Vitae

Funding Notes

The successful applicant for this project will receive a Vice Chancellor’s studentship awards which covers Home/EU tuition fees and provides a UKRI equivalent minimum annual stipend for three years. The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the studentship Terms and conditions.

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