Supporting mothers to stay mentally well
Many of you will know that being a mother is a life-changing experience. This has been highlighted through the experience of people we work with in projects that we run at the Mental Health Foundation that support mothers’ mental health.
Our projects include Creating Connections in South Wales, Mums and Babies in Mind in partnership with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, and Young Mums Together in North London. Many mothers that we work with describe their experience of motherhood as a turning point, often a source of confidence and improved self-worth.
Sometimes motherhood comes with challenges, emotional upheaval and social isolation. These challenges are neither universal nor isolated, each mother’s experience is unique. But it is clear from the feedback we have received that parenthood creates new experiences to navigate, be it balancing home, work and educational life, or recognising that women don't stop being mothers when their children start school or leave home.
Staying mentally well can be one of those challenges. There are practical steps we can all take, parents or not, to look after our mental health and wellbeing. Many of these are set out in our How to… guides.
Mother’s Day provides a good opportunity to reflect on what all of us can do to support mothers. We reached out to the mothers we work with to ask for their views on valuing and supporting mums to stay mentally well. We received considerable feedback, and have identified the three top messages which came across. Let us know what you think!
Don’t be judgemental
No parent is perfect and there’s no single definition of what a “good mum” is. We can all support each other by sharing challenges and solutions and by starting to talk more candidly about motherhood, accepting both the highs and the lows. Crucially don’t judge - every mother is trying her best.
Support mothers to have some ‘me’ time
Give her the gift of time so she can continue to enjoy her favourite things. We all need some time to invest in things we find relaxing and enjoyable. Mothers with all the pressures upon them, sometimes need more help.
Create supportive groups
Every mother needs to feel connected to community. Some may need encouragement to join new drop-in groups and others may want to stay connected to old friends as well as family. Groups can be formed around shared experiences, interests, cultures or languages.
Of course this is not an exhaustive list, so please do share your views on what more we can all do to value mothers and support them to stay mentally well.