(StatePoint) A new survey reveals that the mental health of American moms is going largely unattended, with many living under a near-constant state of stress and few seeking support to ease the burden.
The research, commissioned by MDLIVE, an Evernorth company and leading provider of virtual care services in the United States, finds that 33% of mothers feel stressed or overwhelmed by their responsibilities as a mom at least five days a week. Drivers of their stress and anxiety may include financial concerns, ripple effects of the pandemic, including the mental health crisis among teens, work responsibilities and being a caregiver simultaneously to both children and aging parents.
Yet, for many moms, the prospect of managing their mental health has become a source of stress in and of itself. For 37% of moms, concerns about their own mental health are among their biggest stressors, second only to finances (40%).
Possibly even more concerning is that 70% of moms admit to holding back their feelings and not telling their partner or family when they’re stressed, and 61% feel that they have no one to turn to or confide in for help.
“Our research shows that many moms are suffering in silence and not getting the support they need,” says Dr. Shakira Espada-Campos, who brings more than two decades of direct practice experience to her role as behavioral health medical director at MDLIVE. “I cannot stress enough how important it is for them to prioritize their own well-being.”
To help moms manage their mental health, MDLIVE offers the following tips:
1. Prioritize self-care: Recognize that practicing self-care is not selfish. In addition to things like eating well, exercising, practicing good hygiene, getting enough sleep, and seeing a health care professional routinely for preventive screenings and other care, self-care also means taking time to pursue hobbies or personal interests that bring you pleasure or fulfillment or offer you a way to relax and unwind – activities you may have abandoned after having kids because it would mean time away from family responsibilities. Practicing self-care puts one in a better position to help care for others because your own well-being is in check.
2. Make time to cultivate relationships: Connecting with people who are important to you is essential to mental health. Make it a priority to spend time with partners, family, friends, colleagues, or anyone else who may be important to you, away from the house and kids, even if it’s just for a short period of time.
3. Seek help when struggling to manage stress and anxiety: If your emotional state is interfering with your daily life – if you’re having difficulty controlling your mood, withdrawing from loved ones, feeling fatigued, having trouble sleeping, lacking motivation, or frequently “zoning out” – it’s definitely time to seek professional help.
Acknowledging the importance of mental healthcare, many health plans and employers have expanded the resources available to their members and employers in recent years. New options include digital tools that can help with tracking mood, support meditation, help build life skills, and provide self-care advice. Additionally, telehealth visits with behavioral health professionals offer private, convenient, quality care quickly.
“Although it’s natural to feel like you need to be a superhero, it takes a toll. You should never feel like you’re alone in your mental health journey or that you need to suffer in silence,” Dr. Espada-Campos.