If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that one of my favourite things to do is give back. And that one of my all-time favourite local organizations to support is Mamas for Mamas. I am SO excited to announce that this month through Cameo, we were able to raise $5,012 CAD to help support local mamas in need!
Today, Mamas for Mamas is taking over the blog to share how the pandemic has impacted the mental health of so many mamas and how they support over 75,000 mamas in need!
Take it away, ladies!
Do we even have to wonder why there is a mental health pandemic?
It’s funny how when we get stressed we look for the external reason, like it’s impossible we could just be feeling low or needing a rest. In the last year we could all easily point to an external reason for stress or anxiety, or worse… but I’m willing to bet you’ve felt this before a global pandemic hit. I’m also willing to bet that it wasn’t always due to something you could identify outside of yourself. You’d think, everything is “fine” why am I so down?
We don’t give ourselves nearly enough permission to sit with those feelings and allow time and space to process. We tend to look for the quick fix, the solution, when really what we need is to feel those feelings and to ask what our mind body or soul needs to heal.
We often look for any way to move out of that place of discomfort. The key to true mental health is learning to be comfortable with your own discomfort though, learning to sit and gain from those feelings what they intended.
What is the purpose of sitting with these feelings?
Sitting with it helps move you towards change. Processing it helps to help to move you towards growth. Honouring what it is teaching you helps to move you towards the most authentic version of you.
At Mamas, we have a holistic view of what it means to have mental health. We value this as much for our staff as we do for our clients, as we all know you can’t pour from an empty cup. At Mamas, if you’re not well mentally you get a paid day off no questions asked. Most non-profits would say that’s crazy, not in the budget, adds to admin cost, will be taken advantage of etc.
I beg to differ.
Not once has this been taken advantage of because it’s truly just so appreciated by those who know they don’t need to hit rock bottom before getting time off to reset or other supports from their leader.
At the end of the day, mentally healthy staff comes from a sense of being appreciated, valued and heard. When you don’t nickel and dime your staff with the time they need, they won’t nickel and dime you with their efforts. As a result, our mamas get the absolutely best available support from someone who has a full cup from which to pour. So, as an employer when you offer ongoing support for your team members to feel connected and supported as they recover from a physical or mental illness, you’re preventing a worsening situation from presenting and showing them how valued they are.
Beyond the focus of a mentally healthy workplace, many families who can’t afford preventative medicine and lifestyle end up pushing through and getting sicker and sicker until they’re forced to take drastic action like going on sick leave or changing careers. Others still get to the point where they need surgical or other medical intervention when early intervention could have avoided it completely. The ability to look after your mental health preventatively is quite honestly a financial luxury, and we don’t believe money should be a barrier to mental health. Period.
Knowing the deep connection between poverty and increased risk factors for mental illness, we see the direct impact of our mental health initiatives for the mamas and papas engaging in 1-1 no fee counselling, we can see the direct impact of the groups we offer… but what we don’t see as directly is the massively positive impact the sustainable nourishment program has on our clients’ mental health. What we don’t always relate directly to improved mental health is a general sense of belonging, which according to Adler is the strongest predictor of mental health.
What we do at Mamas for Mamas
At Mamas, however, we know how intricately all of these pieces are connected and how often these holistic aspects are overlooked. When Mamas are able to move out of that space of chronic fight or flight and into some resource, their entire mental health improves. In building our at-risk program, we knew that providing access to trained social workers to navigate the complex web of resources they need to move beyond their situation would make a massive difference, while also ensuring we aren’t duplicating any services.
In building our mental health program we realized that mental health requires a comprehensive approach not just therapy. We are complex, holistic beings and can’t treat one part of our body mind or soul without the other areas being impacted as well.
Healthy food makes a healthy mind, a healthy body makes a healthy mind… when you can’t afford to eat properly or exercise because you’re working your third job, you simply won’t have access to that social determinant of health. This is why we built the sustainable nourishment program and why we continue to find creative ways of feeding families real food. Food is preventative medicine, and at mamas, we are all about prevention.
This is the collective support framework that continues to bring more than 75,000 mamas together across Canada to fill gaps with and for each other online and in their communities. This 24/7 mama to mama connection available on our Mamas for Mamas online communities fills the gaps in so many ways with peer-to-peer donating, trading, and connecting. If the peer to peer support online is not enough and you need help, just remember Mamas got you.
If you’re struggling with your mental health or the mental health challenges of someone you love, please come to Mamas. We will find you the clinical support you need in your local area while serving your emotional system as a whole by ensuring you have access to proper nutrition and vitamins, any items you need for your family, and access to a community with which to belong. This collaborative, connected approach to wellness is the future of mental health. As Glen Close would say “What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.”
So get out there, find your sunshine, be yourself and speak up to break the stigma of mental illness.