Partners of new and expectant mothers who have depression or anxiety will be offered a mental health check in an initiative being launched by NHS England.
The plan is to offer more support to couples experiencing conditions such as postnatal depression.
About one in 10 men experiences mental illness in the first six months after the birth of a baby.
Mental ill health affects about one in five women during or after pregnancy.
Partners of women who are seriously ill will be offered a range of programmes including peer-support, behavioural couples therapy sessions and other family and parenting interventions in specialist community perinatal mental health settings.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “At what should be one of the happiest moments of our lives, caring for a partner suffering mental ill health when a new baby arrives is a difficult and often lonely experience.
“These days dads and partners are rightly expected to be more hands on and NHS mental health services also need to step up and support families at times of extreme stress and anxiety.”
Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national mental health director, said: “Any form of mental ill health during pregnancy, labour or early parenthood is a huge concern and it doesn’t just disrupt life for mums but also for dads, partners and the wider family.
“The NHS has made huge strides forward in improving mental health care for new mums – and ensuring their partners are properly supported too is the next logical step.
“We want to give every family the best possible start in life and this will help do that.”
The NHS also plans to expand its:
- specialist community perinatal mental health services for women
- mother-and-baby unit bed capacity for severely mentally unwell mothers