Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis

Emerging Fatherhood: Interventions and Research into Supporting Fathers and the Couple Relationship

While fathers’ roles vary widely between and within different social and cultural groups, in most countries fathers have an active role in childcare. As such, fathers can significantly influence child development. A meta-analysis suggests that approximately 1 in 10 fathers will experience depression in the first year postpartum increasing to 1 in 4 among those whose partners are experiencing depression.  It is also clear that depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles will impact the quality of a couple's relationship.  Unfortunately, much of the perinatal research has excluded fathers and the impact of parents' mental health on the co-parenting relationship.  Dr. Dennis’s research is developing interventions that will change this. Her talk will focus on her current research initiatives that involve fathers and on emerging theoretical perspectives of the co-parenting relationship.  She will share the issues that affect a new father’s mental health, what fathers and their partners can be aware of in their relationship, and how those who work with families can be better prepared to offer support and knowledge.


Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis is a Professor in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Community Health and was recently appointed the Women’s Health Research Chair at Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital. She is currently the principal investigator of seven large, multi-site studies and is a co-investigator on twenty-four other research projects concerning maternal, paternal, and infant health outcomes. She holds over $23 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and has over 170 peer-review publications. She is the lead author on eight Cochrane systematic reviews and has provided over 150 invited presentations. Lastly, Dr. Dennis has worked with the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health, and Public Health Ontario to influence policy and improve the care provided to women and their families across the perinatal period.