Working moms face unique mental health stressors

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- More than two million women have left the workforce during the pandemic -- many, because they can't find childcare. If anyone knows how tough balancing it all is, it's Tywon Mickel. The single mom has a 6-year-old, an 8-year-old, and 11-month-old twins who were born during the pandemic.

"It's been a very rough year, but I can say I finally made it through this year. I had to adjust to staying at home with the babies, and that was the most difficult. Going from working to a 24-hour round the clock mom," she explained.

Natasha Johnson also has her hands full, but is learning to show herself grace and re-define what it means to be Superwoman.

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"A real mom to me, she doesn't look like a picture perfect mother. She's a mother who may have a baby on her hip, and a load of laundry she's shoving in the dryer. She may be trying to put milk in a sippie cup for another baby. Answering the phone call at the same time. They're balancing many, many things at the same time and it's tough," she said.

Desiree Eastland runs the Women's Empowerment Ministry at Hope Church in Pearland. Her calling is for such a time as this -- helping ladies navigate when so much is asked of them.

"They seem worn down, they're tired, they're juggling a lot and they just want a breather. They need a break."

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Amen to that. Mental health advocates say breaks are absolutely necessary for our minds and bodies. Stress can lead to physical ailments.

Yes, most things fall on mom, but it's critical that we raise the red flag when we're overwhelmed - and prioritize what's important to us, even if it's as simple as a pedicure or a nap.

"I think a big way to empower yourself is really to be intentional about what is absolutely necessary. When you wake up in the morning, be very intentional. Like, what do I have to do today? Not what I want to do, what would be great, what other people expect of me, but what do I have to do?" Kristie Moore, clinical therapist and Emotional Support Coordinator for Region 4, encouraged.

At the end of the day, you're doing better than you think. Take deep breaths. Meditate. Pray. Build a support group of friends. Start assigning tasks to others. And finally, as Johnson does often, encourage yourself.

"'You know what girl? You're going to be alright.' I tell myself that. That even if I feel broken or I experience brokenness, I know what it also feels to be whole - and I can also get back to that. I don't know how long it will take, but I'll get back to that."

Mental health problems are common. In 2014, one in five American adults experienced a mental health issue. Reaching out for help can be scary, but there are some easy steps to take:

  • Build your support system. Find someone you trust to talk to.
  • Find a peer group -- people who have common experiences who can also support you.
  • Educate yourself on treatment.
  • Develop a recovery plan. For example: identifying triggers that make you feel worse, and learning how to manage them.

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