By Craig Booker
August 15, 2023

How employers can support new fathers

Learn how employers can positively impact new fathers' mental health in the workplace.

As we continue in the pursuit of improving mental health in our community and the workplace, it is imperative that we proactively take steps to support the family. One of the growing challenges facing any business is attracting and retaining talent. Employees are asking much more from employers than great pay and benefits. Working fathers are seeking greater work-life balance, prioritizing individual and family well-being.

All across America, people, including fathers, live with mental health challenges. As traditional gender roles change in many households, modern dads face new obstacles. When it comes to new fathers, many are completely overwhelmed by the changes leading up to and following the addition of a new child. Fathers want to be involved now more than ever, but balancing work demands and a new child makes this a daunting task.

What mental health challenges do new fathers face?

  • Stress
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Relationship Strain
  • Financial and Emotional Concerns

What is paternity leave?

Paternity leave allows fathers time away from work to bond with their new child following a birth, adoption, or foster placement. It can also be a time to support the needs of their spouse.

Paternal leave can come in the form of paid or unpaid leave. Policies differ from company to company and often vary in each state. According to Zippia, the average length of paternity leave in the United States is one week.3

Why is parental leave for fathers important?

There is a silent epidemic of paternal mental illness in the United States. According to Psychology Today, as many as one in four new dads in the U.S. may experience major depression four weeks after the birth of a child. When their partner is struggling with postpartum depression (PPD), up to 50% percent of men report paternal depression.1 On top of that, an estimated 18% of men experience anxiety in the postpartum period that is severe enough to justify a formal diagnosis and treatment.2

Why are fathers not getting the help they need?

Despite the rise in awareness of mental health and well-being, men are still not getting the help they need. In a 2023 study by Verywell and Parents, out of 1600 dads surveyed, only a slight majority of men—57% and 56%—said they were comfortable feeling or expressing emotions. 

Despite all the efforts to break the stigma surrounding mental health, the pressure to hold everything together persists. According to Mayra Mendez, Ph.D., LMFT, when speaking of men said, “They’re under a lot of pressure to not have mental illness, not have mental health issues, not feel emotionally exhausted or emotionally compromised.” 5

What are the benefits of paternal leave for fathers?

While paternal mental health is a relatively new field, several known benefits exist. According to Betterhelp, two weeks or more of paternity leave can dramatically impact the family. Some of these benefits include improving father-child communication, improving a child’s perception of their father’s involvement, and can lead to an increase in parent-child closeness. It has also been shown to promote gender equality, lower the likelihood of divorce, and support the well-being of the other parent.4

With all the new demands on businesses, understanding what a company can do to have the most impact is critical. Implementing cultural changes within an organization takes additional time and resources already in short supply. Before moving forward, leaders must clearly understand why these changes are desperately needed. This “why” will serve as their compass and provide motivation when changing company culture proves difficult.

5 ways employers can support working fathers

  1. Regularly educate employees on mental health and the resources available to them.
  2. Implement a generous paid paternal leave policy. 
  3. Champion policies to protect the employee’s role at the company.
  4. Offer remote therapy sessions for new parents
  5. Encourage other businesses to adopt similar paternal leave policies.

As companies face the challenges of finding and retaining employees, they must implement policies that show they value their workers. An employer can set themselves apart by creating a work environment where family well-being is a top priority. This makes financial sense and creates an environment where people are comfortable taking time to rest and recover regardless of their family plans.

Just as corporate America embraced physical health and wellness, now is the time to expand to include mental well-being for the entire family. 


[1] Schaeffer, C., PhD (2016, March 22). The Mental Health of Dads Matters. Psychology Today. Retrieved July 5, 2023, from Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). The mental health of dads matters. Psychology Today.

[2] Leach, L. S., Poyser, C., Cooklin, A. R., & Giallo, R. (2016). Prevalence and course of anxiety disorders (and symptom levels) in men across the perinatal period: A systematic review. Journal of Affective Disorders, 190, 675-686.

[3] Kolmar, C. (2023, June 22). 25+ Telling Paternity Leave Statistics [2023]: Average Paternity Leave Length. Zippia. Retrieved July 5, 2023, from

[4] Betterhelp (2023, April 27). Why Parental Leave For A Father Is Important For Mental Health And Family Life. Retrieved July 5, 2023, from

[5] Fleming, L. (2023, June 13). We Can’t Ignore Our Dads’ Mental Health, Even If They Try To. Retrieved July 5, 2023, from

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About Craig Booker

Craig Booker is the founder of Overflow, a community for anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. He is a freelance writer and mental health advocate. Craig is an Edmond native with a bachelor's degree in Business Management from the University of Central Oklahoma. He is passionate about creating a safe space where people can be authentic, knowing they will find love, acceptance, and encouragement. Craig hosts a weekly podcast called, The Overflow Podcast," where he talks about mental health and personal growth. In each episode, Craig shares practical ways to positively impact mental health.