Paternal leave and fathers' mental health: A rapid literature review

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Philpott, Lloyd F.
Goodwin, John
Saab, Mohamad M.
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Global Action on Men's Health
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Background: Several countries have introduced paternal leave policies in order to encourage and involve fathers in caregiving. Besides supporting fathers' involvement, paternal leave may have other consequences such as health improvements. Paternity leave could potentially improve mental health outcomes by reducing stress and anxiety associated with work-family conflict. It can be hypothesized that paternal leave has a positive effect on men's mental health; however, there have been no recent attempts to review the literature pertaining to such outcomes. Purpose: The aim of this rapid review of the literature was to evaluate the evidence from studies that explored the effect of paternal leave on men's mental health. Design: Rapid literature review. Methods: The review was guided by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Electronic databases CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Academic Search Complete, MEDLINE, APA PsycArticles, APA PsycInfo, Social Sciences Full Text (H.W. Wilson), SocINDEX with Full Text, and ERIC were searched for studies that met the inclusion criteria. Findings: A total of 337 records were identified from the electronic database search. Nine studies met the inclusion criteria. The findings suggest that fathers experience mental health benefits as a result of availing of parental leave. The length of leave availed by fathers had an impact on their mental health, with longer duration of paternity leave associated with higher levels of mental well-being. Flexible leave impeded fathers from fully engaging in their paternal role or their employment duties. Conclusion: The mental health benefits of parental leave usually associated with mothers are also extended to fathers, highlighting the importance of this statutory entitlement.
Fatherhood , Mental health , Paternal leave , Rapid literature review
Philpott, L. F., Goodwin, J. and Saab, M. M. (2022) 'Paternal leave and fathers' mental health: A rapid literature review', International Journal of Men's Social and Community Health, 5(SP1), pp. 29-49. doi: 10.22374/ijmsch.v5iSP1.72
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