In a recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers evaluate the association between paternal mental health and a child’s development during middle childhood.
Middle childhood, beginning at six years of age, is critical for every child as a child learns novel cognitive, social, and behavioral skills during this transitory phase.
Studies have examined the effects of paternal health on a child’s development during this crucial phase; however, focusing only on paternal depression but no other risk factors, such as anxiety and perceived stress.
A meta-analysis reported that paternal mental health issues present during pregnancy (prenatal) doubled the risk of psychiatric disorders in school-goers aged 6-8. Even paternal mental health-related conditions, e.g., substance abuse, have been shown to affect children adversely.
Likewise, environmental factors, such as family conflicts and differing parental views, may influence these associations. However, there is a lack of longitudinal follow-up studies examining the same.
Moreover, there is a lack of understanding of how the type of paternal mental health symptoms, their timing and severity, and other socio-environmental factors interact with or mediate this association during middle childhood.