The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

A study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics demonstrated that children in households that had a father who was depressed were almost twice as likely to have mental and behavioral issues as those children with neither parent showing depressive symptoms.

This raises the question of whether the mental health impact is genetic or is it a result of being in a certain environment.

“We couldn’t answer if the transference from child to parent is passed on genetically [based on] the data. Genetic data is too superficial,” said Dr. Michael Weitzman, head researcher and professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Pediatrics at New York University Langone Medical Center. “However we have seen from the data that there is an increased tendency of risk for mental health problems.”

Weitzman explained it could simply be the environment.

“When parents are excited by their kids, their kids are in turn are excited as well,” he said. “When their parents are feeling depressed, their children pick up on that too. It is all transactional.”

This study is one of the first of its kind to analyze fathers’ mental issues and its impact on children’s mental health, which leaves some wondering what took researchers so long to examine this relationship.

“That is the most remarkable thing about our findings,” Weitzman said. “Now that we have [examined this link], it is like peeling back an artichoke.”

The findings may have greater implications the African-American community.

African-American single mothers represented one-third of all African-American households according to the U.S. Census data from 2010, raising nearly 70 percent of African-American children. This means African-American fathers are not in the homes of the majority of African-American kids.

However, with the high numbers of undiagnosed mental health disorders in the black community, especially among black men, simply having dad around may, ironically, not be the solution for behavioral issues.

Weitzman’s study examined only two-parent households. It revealed that African-American and Hispanic children were less likely than white children to display any depressive symptoms.

Even in cases of adjusted analysis that controlled for parents level of education, socioeconomic status, whether they smoked or not, black children were still less likely to have mental health problems than non-Hispanic whites. Some of it can be explained by family structure.

“The Black and Hispanic populations tend to generally have larger extended families that support the parents, which takes some of the stress off them and mental toll on their kids,” he said.

Previous research, including a recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health, established that a mother’s mental health problems impacted her children’s mental health, and that a father’s actions had a strong impact on mother’s mental health.

The study’s findings showed the risk of children having emotional or behavioral problems were higher in children who had mothers with mental health problems than those children with fathers who had mental health problems.

Researchers contextualized this link by citing the amount of time that mothers spend with their children. An even higher risk to children — 25 percent — occurs when both parents have mental health problems.

The current unemployment crisis in the African American community may also play a role in African Americans who are depressed, which may potentially lead to an increase in the numbers of families dealing with depression and other mental health problems.

In October of this year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 16 percent unemployment rate among African-American men.

Weitzman’s study shows the depression rates among men have been found to be the highest amongst those who are socially isolated and unemployed.

”[The] stress level of losing a job is right up there with losing a love one. Men disproportionate to women have lost their jobs so the numbers of mental health issues among men is probably going to go up,” warned Weitzman.