Low education, income levels linked to depression among urban black fathers

November 23, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new University of Michigan study finds that black fathers are 50 percent more likely to be depressed than men in the general population. One quarter of black fathers were depressed at some time over the five-year course of the study.

Additionally, black fathers with lower levels of education and income have elevated rates of depression. Depression is twice as prevalent among those without a high school education.

These findings are surprising because depression is more often linked to women and mothers, rather than men and fathers.

"The results are also troubling, given current ," said Marilyn Sinkewicz, assistant professor at the U-M School of Social Work.

are disproportionately exposed to adverse social and economic factors that are linked to depression. The study highlights the need for policies that target education, job training, child support and criminal justice issues among black fathers, as well as policies that also consider the of these men.

Sinkewicz studies the health and mental health of men and boys, and the spillover effects on their families. She co-authored the study, which appears in the current issue of Research on Social Work Practice, with Rufina Lee of New York State Psychiatric Institute.

The researchers used data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, which followed 3,710 children born to unmarried parents and 1,188 children born to married parents. Parents were recruited from 75 hospitals in 20 major cities in the late 1990s.

Fathers and mothers were interviewed immediately after the birth of their child. Follow-up interviews occurred when the child was 1, 3 and 5 years old. The study is ongoing.

On the whole, conditions among black fathers worsened over the course of the study. The proportion that remained free of depression and the proportion that recovered from depression decreased at each follow up interview.

Seventy five percent of black fathers were free from depression, anxiety, substance dependence, and bad health. These problems were highly concentrated in fathers with depression. Co-occurring conditions such as these are more chronic and difficult to treat.

Fathers with and those with multiple health and mental health problems were also more likely to have looser bonds with the mothers of their children, even though these fathers start out with high hopes for family life. This study suggests that fulfilling these dreams requires a focus on the mental health of fathers.

Explore further: First-time mothers at increased risk for postpartum mental disorders

Related Stories

Empty nest syndrome may not be bad after all, study finds

February 21, 2008

One day they are crawling, the next day they are driving and then suddenly they aren’t kids anymore. As children reach adulthood, the parent-child relationship changes as parents learn to adapt to newly independent children. ...

Mental disorders in parents linked to autism in children

May 5, 2008

Parents of children with autism were roughly twice as likely to have been hospitalized for a mental disorder, such as schizophrenia, than parents of other children, according to an analysis of Swedish birth and hospital records ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.