Thursday, February 11, 2010

Young Pacific Island Fathers and Mental Health

Mental health well-being amongst fathers within the Pacific Island Families Study, by El-Shadan Tautolo, Philip J. Schluter and Gerhard Sundborn

This article investigates the prevalence of potential psychological disorder amongst a cohort of primarily Pacific fathers in New Zealand over their child’s first 6-years of life.

The analysis is based on data collected at 12-months, 2-years and 6-years after birth during the Pacific Islands Families Study, and uses the 12-item General Health Questionnaire
to assess the prevalence of psychological distress amongst participant fathers at each measurement point.

The majority of fathers within the study reported good overall health and well-being. ‘Symptomatic’ disorders were initially low at 12 months (3.9%) but increased significantly at 2 years (6.6%) and at 6 years (9.8%). Other factors, such as employment, smoking and drinking, and marital status were taken into account, and were seen to have an effect on the mental health of the father.
It is finally being acknowledged after many years that the mental health and wellbeing of fathers is of particular importance to the function and wellbeing of the family.

Pacific peoples experience higher rates of mental illness than New Zealanders overall with the 12-month prevalence of Pacific peoples experiencing a mental disorder being 25% compared with 20.7% of the total New Zealand population.

There is a need for further research in mental health amongst Pacific Islanders, particularly amongst specific groups such as youth and males in general. However, this perspective is only reflective of the situation amongst New Zealand based Pacific people, and may not represent the situation amongst Pacific people living in the Pacific Islands.

This article is available in full online.

Photo of a father and son in Vanuatu by Bernard Oh

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