North Island College student Emerald Daly is developing a resource guide to help all new parents with postpartum challenges.

The resource guide project is part of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing student’s fourth-year leadership course.

Daly says the inspiration came after identifying a gap in care and understanding of men’s mental health in the postpartum period.

“I started to question why the conversation about postpartum depression was only being had with new mothers but not men or partners,” says Daly. “It is a very gender-specific area and I hope to dispel some of these myths that only ‘women’ can be affected.”

The guide is aimed at all new parents with the goal of being inclusive and creating awareness about the challenges that all new parents can face.

“Researching this topic I found 10 – 50% of new fathers suffer from some form of postpartum depression or anxiety, yet there is a lack of support for them,” she says. “There are lots of supports aimed at new mothers, which I think is also important, but there’s little to no information provided to new fathers or information inclusive of all people, family units and cultural beliefs. Experiencing depression and/or anxiety in the weeks or months following the addition of a child to a family isn’t just a women’s health issues, it can happen to anyone.”

The resource guide will include signs and symptoms to watch for, potential risk factors, self-care tips, and a list of support resources if someone does need help or wants more information.

The guide is also meant to help partners recognize signs and symptoms, so they can encourage their partner to seek help, something which Daly says can still be challenging for men in particular but also for anyone else aside from the birthing mother.

“Becoming a parent is a big life change, for all people involved. It should really be about the entire family, whatever that family may look like, to ensure all parents have the information and support they need,” Daly added.

Daly has received great feedback about the resource guide and is partnering with social service agencies on the North Island to distribute the materials.