North Shore Private trials ‘text tips’ for dads
Apr 09, 2021
New fathers can receive free text messages offering support, practical tips and information as part of a new trial being carried out at North Shore Private Hospital.
SMS4Dads is a free text-based service helping fathers understand what to expect during this new stage of their lives.
The program also checks in on psychosocial health and refers fathers who may be at higher risk of suffering from perinatal anxiety or depression to support services, including Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA).
Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at North Shore Private Hospital, Dr Michael van der Griend, said SMS4Dads was an innovative way to reach men who may be struggling.
“We know that 1 in 20 fathers suffer from anxiety and depression in the antenatal period and this number increases to 1 in 10 after the baby is born,” Dr van der Griend said.
“There is ample evidence that men are reluctant to engage with the health system and since paternal depression is a driver of poorer health outcomes for themselves, their child and their family, this project seeks to find new ways to overcome perinatal health barriers.”
SMS4Dads is part of NSW Health’s Focus on New Fathers program which is being rolled out at sites in Northern Sydney, Murrumbidgee, Western Sydney and Northern New South Wales. The pilot is being delivered by the University of Newcastle and will run over the next year.
Dr van der Griend said the project is a unique opportunity for private and public health systems to work collaboratively to help improve the complex area of father perinatal healthcare.
Expectant fathers over the age of 18 can enrol in SMS4Dads if their partner is at least 16 weeks pregnant or their baby is less than 6 months old.
Participants simply scan a QR code and answer some questions, and they will then receive approximately three text messages a week that align with their baby’s gestational or birth age right through until the child turns one.