Congratulations to Dr Izaak Lim

In November 2023 Dr Izaak Lim was awarded the Barnett Early Parenting Research and Collaboration Grant for his project The role of fathers in the development of childhood anxiety

This project will investigate the unique role fathers play in their children’s lives. It’s an important issue, but there has been less research looking at the important impact of fathers on child development and wellbeing compared to research looking at mothers. From the existing research, it seems that fathers have a different way of parenting and interacting with their children that helps children explore their environment and take risks. It also seems that when mothers have a mental illness, fathers have an important influence on how the family functions and how children develop. 

On that background, the study has three main aims: 

  • to better understand the connection between fathers’ mental health and trauma history to children’s anxiety 
  • to better understand how parenting and father-child relationship factors influence this connection
  • to better understand how father and family relationship factors influence the connection between mothers’ mental health and children’s anxiety. 

The research will be undertaken as a new nested study of fathers within the Mercy Pregnancy Emotional Wellbeing Study (MPEWS) and will focus on the early identification of modifiable risk and protective factors associated with childhood anxiety disorders. 

"If we find that paternal emotional disorders in early life predict the development of anxiety disorders in middle childhood, this may change our approach to perinatal and early in life mental health services, to ensure that fathers’ mental health is more actively considered in assessment and treatment. Similarly, if we find that the quality of the father-child relationship confers some protection against the development of childhood anxiety, this may stimulate infant and early childhood mental health services to develop more father-inclusive (indeed, father-engaging) models of care, noting that fathers are largely absent when it comes to perinatal, infant and early child mental health treatment settings."

Dr Izaak Lim

The Barnett Early Parenting Research and Collaboration Grant supports longitudinal research to measure outcomes in early parenting, that can lead to changes so that children have the best start in life. We sincerely thank Dr Bryanne Barnett AM for her generosity and vision to bring this project to life. 

"All my life I have been interested in what makes some families and relationships happy and thriving while others suffer, and what would help. Needless to say, I learned a lot from what worked or didn’t when I tried to help younger children at school, then fellow students at University and young registrars when I was Senior Registrar or a Unit Director. I am still learning, and I want to support promising research, interventions and our many dedicated colleagues to make advances in this area."

Dr Bryanne Barnett AM

The RANZCP Foundation funds clinical research in psychiatry
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