One in three new fathers worry about their mental health. Many struggle to bond with their babies, or wrestle with despair and aggression. Why isn’t this more widely acknowledged – and why won’t the medical establishment support them?

Ross Hunt, his wife and their new baby were still on the maternity ward when he knew that something was wrong. “I realised I didn’t really want to hold her,” he says. The nurses handled her so casually, so instinctively; their ease made him recoil. “They lifted her up, blanket around her. I thought: ‘She’s tiny. I don’t want to touch her.’ But they made me.”

Back home, Hunt’s estrangement began to bed down. There was “just no connection” between him and the baby. His wife would dress little Isabelle, “looking all cute. She’d show me – and there was just nothing there. I’d wanted a baby so much; I assumed that when I had one, I would be fine. But any time Isabelle came to me and started crying, I almost took it personally.” He told his wife: “I know I don’t like her – but it’s mutual.”


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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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19 March 2019