3 Reasons Moms May Not Ask for Help When They Need It
Somehow, it seems they have been silenced. The shed tears are as if they never existed.
In America, I feel there exists an overabundance of judgment of mommies.
And this can further marginalize a select group…
The moms suffering in silence.
The moms who need mental health services, but will never seek treatment.
There are three distinct reasons why I believe some moms fail to reach out for help.
1. In America, there exists a notion that moms must “have it all together.”
Working moms do not receive days off for “mind renewal,” and if corporate America discovers a mom does receive counseling (or medication), her workplace identity may be forever changed.
I feel this sends the message that apparently mommy stress is OK, except when help is sought — and then words such as “unstable” or “unreliable” may be used.
And so many moms — and workers in general — are faced with the current reality that they may take a sick day for a medical issue such as vomiting, but if the source of this vomiting is anxiety, then sick days may be seen as “weak” days, and judgment prevails.
Stay-at-home moms supposedly “have it good,” and many may believe a break isn’t necessary. The reality is that sometimes, a 9-5 job can provide a much-needed respite for these moms.
2. Mental health patients still seem to be seen as “secondary citizens” in the United States.
Mental health seems to only rise to the forefront during tragedies. In my experience, mental health disorders rarely receive empathy or understanding; instead they receive judgment and disdain. It is not surprising to me stressed out moms are reluctant to reach out for help.
3. Moms may often desire mental health services, but they simply may not have the luxury of time or support, especially if their children have complex needs.
“Me time” is often an unknown phenomenon, so feelings of guilt, inadequacy and defeat are forced to reside on these mothers’ backs with little to no relief.
Obtaining therapy can be near impossible if support is not available, and so many moms are forced to use the bathroom, bedroom pillow and the shower as therapeutic nesting places to hold and keep captive feelings that should be shared with a professional.
Maybe one day America will give moms, and those with mental health problems in general, an equal opportunity.
The opportunity to parent without judgment.
The opportunity to feel safe when feeling depressed.
The opportunity to scream without others saying “insanity.”
The opportunity to live in freedom with help from professionals.
So if America decides to break its “Tablet of Mommy Commandments,” just know that I, and thousands of other therapists, will be waiting with open arms.
In the meantime, I hope there will be less judgment and fingers will be quietly pointed away.
Maybe social media will be a bit more forgiving, empathetic and understanding. And maybe we moms can recognize that the village it once took to raise a child can now require a whole city.
Instead of judgment and ignoring others’ pain, maybe we will ask questions such as:
“How can I help?” or
“What can I do to intervene?” or
“How can I change this stigma?”
Because in truth, there is no perfect parent, and many moms bear unimaginable hardships. In the end, all moms want successful children, even if that journey to success requires more professional support.
Image via Thinkstock.