No Health Without Mental Health
Nora Hedgecock, OTR/L - May 7, 2020
In this day and age more than ever, we are constantly bombarded with curated images and messages that can set unrealistic expectations and lead to feelings of despair and inadequacy. Mothers are no exception to this phenomenon. A steady stream of filtered, picturesque images and posts from influencer moms can create an expectation that the entire experience of motherhood should be one of total and utter bliss. But let’s face it – being a mom is one of the hardest jobs out there and doesn’t always look like a Pinterest board.
It’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, and we are here to support you in any way we can.
At P2P, we believe that the best care for children is family-centered, which means supporting parents’ well-being. We like to think of parental mental health like an oxygen mask on an airplane – you have to put yours on first so that you can help others. Mental health is what enables parents, and therefore their children, to thrive.
As occupational therapists, we look at both body and mind as routes to wellness. Research tells us:
- There is a strong relationship between our ability to participate in the daily activities that matter to us and our health and well-being.
- Social support increases maternal physical and mental health and overall life satisfaction.
- Mothers report mental stress as a result of feeling like they lack time for themselves
So, what to do about it? Precisely what works will be different for everyone, but no matter what please know that help is available. Reach out to friends and family for support, consult with a mental health provider (resources linked below), and make time for self care. Sometimes it feels hard to take time for yourself - you have kids, a job, pets, laundry, and probably so much more on your plate - but know that you really do deserve it. And you need it - we are our best selves for our kids when we take care of ourselves, too. Self-care looks different for everyone, but includes things like nutrition, childcare support, proper rest, exercise, relaxing, hobbies, and spending time with your partner. If you’re unable to get out and see friends and family – social support also includes phone calls and video chats. Find what works best for you and allow yourself the time to do it as often as possible.
If you are struggling, know that you are not alone:
- One in ten women in the US report symptoms of depression and at least one episode of major depression in the last year
- 15 to 20% of new mothers report symptoms of postpartum anxiety and depression. Symptoms can appear during pregnancy and in the year after giving birth, but may go on for years if undiagnosed and untreated.
As occupational therapists we work closely with mental health providers, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any referrals or guidance in finding support. These are some great resources as well:
We feel incredibly grateful to be a part of your community and are constantly inspired by the mothers we meet. As always, we are here to support you in any way we can. Feel free to email us if you have any questions.
Bar, M. A., & Jarus, T. (2015). The Effect of Engagement in Everyday Occupations, Role Overload and Social Support on Health and Life Satisfaction among Mothers. International journal of environmental research and public health, 12(6), 6045–6065. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120606045
“Depression Among Women.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 May 2020, www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/index.htm.
“Pregnancy & Postpartum Mental Health Overview: Postpartum Support International (PSI).” Postpartum Support International - PSI, www.postpartum.net/learn-more/pregnancy-postpartum-mental-health/.