Working mothers continue to struggle with the competing demands of full-time work, caregiving, and teaching a year after schools and childcare facilities were closed due to COVID-19. While the demands are not new, the pandemic has strained the already frail structures and policies to support working parents, mainly working mothers, motherhood, and mental health.
As a result, there always has been a mass exodus of working mothers from the workforce worldwide and a mental health crisis among mothers that requires immediate attention.
For many people, motherhood and mental health are associated with an abundance of love, nourishment, and comfort. But there’s much more to the picture regarding mothers’ mental health. According to a study, during the pandemic, mothers in Canada reported higher rates of depression and anxiety.
Shame, guilt, depression (including postpartum depression), and general mental and physical exhaustion are common aspects of motherhood that many mothers find challenging to recognize or discuss.
Young mothers are more likely to experience symptoms of postpartum depression, highlighting the importance of prenatal and postnatal health care programs. There was no evidence that single mothers and their children were at an increased risk of adverse outcomes. The value of education was demonstrated, emphasizing the need for societal support to encourage adolescents to stay in school.
Mothers today face a variety of challenges like:
1. Guilt as a mother
Mom-blaming is a national pastime that intensifies guilt, a universal theme of motherhood and mental health. Mom’s blame begins during pregnancy and worsens as friends, family, and the media focus on perceived mothering flaws.
2. Lack of sleep
Recent studies show that mothers suffer from years of sleep deprivation. Still, we don’t need academics to tell us what we already know: moms need sleep! Unfortunately, sleep deprivation hurts mental health, increasing depression, anxiety, stress, panic attacks, and other health issues.
According to our culture and employers, mothers are expected to raise their families and work as if they don’t have children. As millions of working moms scramble and sacrifice to balance each day, these conflicting expectations take a psychological toll. Too many mothers feel worn down, exhausted, and guilty because they do not have access to family leave or other forms of support.
4. Role of a primary caregiver
Women continue to be primary caregivers for children and other family members in the United States, accounting for most unpaid labor. For many women, the weight of this burden goes unnoticed and unappreciated.
5. Embarrassment of the body
In all walks of life, people criticize and place unrealistic expectations on physical appearance. Family, friends, and the media frequently pressure mothers to “lose the baby weight.” Lack of self-esteem or self-worth and depression and anxiety can result from this.
Let us celebrate and show our gratitude for the mothers in our lives this Mother’s Day by learning more about motherhood’s genuine and complex challenges and the signs and symptoms of potential mental health problems.