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Voices of Low-Income Latinos During the Transition to Parenthood Open Access

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Although the transition to parenthood can be a particularly vulnerable time for families’ mental health, most studies have focused on documenting the prevalence of women’s depression across the perinatal period and its deleterious effects on the maternal and infant outcomes. More recently, research has indicated that male partners of women with perinatal depression are also at increased risk for depression during and after pregnancy; and, that their distress negatively impacts father-infant interactions and infant outcomes. Marital satisfaction, social network/support, and individual mental health have been found to be among the most influential risk factors to the emotional well-being of first time, heterosexual parents in the United States.  Additionally, longitudinal research during the perinatal period has suggested that coping influences the relationship between life stressors and mental health outcomes during the transition to parenthood. However, much of this research has not included fathers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Despite the convergent factors (mothers’ risk for perinatal depression, high fertility rates, socioeconomic disadvantage, and low help-seeking) that suggest that the transition to parenthood for Latino fathers is likely an important life stage to study, research regarding the experiences of Latinos across the perinatal period is limited. Informed by Cowan and Cowan’s (1995) theoretical model for the identification of at-risk parents during the transition to parenthood, three papers are proposed to address this significant research gap with a particular focus on fathers’ emotional experiences during this life stage, which collectively address the feasibility of conducting research with—and understanding the emotional experiences, coping, and intervention preferences of —Latino fathers during the transition to parenthood. Specifically, these papers advance research regarding mental health among low-income Latino males during the transition to parenthood by: (a) assessing the feasibility of increasing their participation in mental health research (Chapter 2); (b) examining their emotional experiences, transition-specific stressors, and coping using a mixed-methods approach (Chapter 3), and (c) exploring their help-seeking attitudes and mental health intervention preferences (Chapter 4).

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