May 19, 2022
Survey shows one in three moms feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities; two-thirds feel they have no one to turn to for help with mental health
MIRAMAR, Fla., MAY 19, 2022 – New research released today by MDLIVE, an Evernorth company and leading provider of virtual care services, reveals that the mental health of America’s moms is going largely unattended, with many living under a near-constant state of stress, and few seeking support to help ease the burden.
In a national survey of more than 2,000 moms, more than one in three (33 percent) feel stressed or overwhelmed by their responsibilities as a mom at least five days a week. More than two-thirds of moms (70 percent) admit to holding back their feelings and not telling their partner or family when they are stressed, and nearly two-thirds (61 percent) feel that they have no one to turn to or confide in for help.
“Recent research* points to the crisis in mental health among teens, and that approximately 80% of working parents reported some form of mental health impact from the pandemic over the past two years. But tied to the discussion is that parents themselves, specifically mothers, are very clearly struggling alone with their own mental health,” said Dr. Shakira Espada-Campos, medical director of behavioral health, MDLIVE. “Fear and guilt are gripping moms across the U.S. in incredibly unhealthy ways, and a lack of motivation, time and the ongoing stigma associated with mental healthcare are standing in the way of moms getting the support they need.”
The research, conducted in April 2022, reveals that nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of moms often put on a strong facade for their family’s sake to avoid being seen as stressed, and the reasons are concerning:
• More than half (57 percent) of moms feel like they are a failure as a mom when they ask for help, and
• Nearly just as many (54 percent) saying they do not feel they will get the support they need to help relieve the stress and mental load they carry.
Many external factors are contributing to the burden of stress for many moms. For instance, recent research by the Economist Impact* reported a number of parents feeling overwhelmed by the demands of their teenagers’ mental health issues. Yet, for many moms, the prospect of managing their own mental health has become a source of stress in and of itself. For more than one-third (37%) of moms, concerns about their own mental health are among their biggest stressors, second only to finances (40%). Far less prevalent are more traditional drivers of stress such as caregiving for aging parents (19%), job responsibilities (23%) and politics (13%).
“Moms acknowledge the primary stressors in their lives and recognize the need to care for their mental health, but this survey reveals that the barriers to that care are exacerbating their stress and making things worse,” said Dr. Espada-Campos. “The greatest gift we can give moms is the confidence to open up about their struggles, and our willingness to listen and support them in seeking relief from the stress they carry.”
Moms Battling Barriers to Mental Health Support
Healthcare professionals, employers and other organizations are making significant efforts to expand access to and use of mental health services. However, fewer than one in four moms (23%) say they are currently receiving professional mental health support, and many moms acknowledged obstacles to seeking such support: 47% say they lack the time, while stigma is a barrier for nearly one-third (30%). One in four cite confusion and uncertainty about where to begin. And despite efforts to support mental health in the workplace, nearly half (47%) of moms feel they do not get enough support from their employer when it comes to mental health.
Dr. Espada-Campos offers three important ways moms can begin to relieve any burden of stress they may be experiencing:
Prioritize self-care: Moms need to 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 for yourself 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.
Make time to cultivate relationships: Connecting with people who are important to us is essential to our mental health. Moms should make it a priority to spend time with partners, family, friends, colleagues, or anyone else who may be important to them, away from the house and kids, even if it’s just for a short period of time.
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.
“We know moms are busy, but I cannot stress enough how important it is for them to prioritize their own well-being,” said Dr. Espada-Campos. “For some, that may mean making time for an activity they previously enjoyed before they had kids or seeking out new opportunities to join like-minded peers, while others may want to focus more on connecting with family and friends. Moms should also take advantage of the tools and resources that are available to them, often through their health plans, for getting support from a mental health professional.”
MDLIVE, an Evernorth company, is a leading provider of virtual health care services in the U.S. We work with our health plan, health system, and self-insured employer partners to give patients simple, convenient and affordable access to the highest quality medical and behavioral health care, 24/7, from the comfort and safety of their homes. With a vision and passion for changing health care for the better, we are working to improve the patient experience, close the patient-provider accessibility gap, and bring providers opportunities to augment the services they currently offer. More than 62 million individuals nationwide have access to MDLIVE as a covered benefit through their health plans and employers. To learn more about MDLIVE, visit www.MDLIVE.com, download our app, or text “Sophie” to MDLIVE (635483) to register.
Amy Trow, (412) 377-3771