Texas’ first moms’ maternal mental wellness program
(HOUSTON, TX)— Being a mom is challenging during the best of times. Moms carry a heavy mental load, but the COVID-19 pandemic has added another level of stress and anxiety while removing vital support systems like daycare or school. Recognizing this, The Menninger Clinic launched the Menninger Moms Program, first-of-its-kind virtual services for moms in Texas. The program focuses on mental and physical wellness and provides supportive solutions designed to help moms cope and develop a long-term healthy self-care regimen.
“There are plenty of services that focus on moms during pregnancy, but post-delivery there’s a misconception that moms ‘should have this by now’ – and many don’t,” says Jessica Rohr, PhD, psychologist, The Menninger Clinic. “We’re here to help bridge the gap and provide a real-world wellness skill set for all moms with kids under the age of 18.”
It’s no secret that psychological distress is high due to the COVID-19 outbreak and, now more than ever, there’s a huge need for maternal wellness. In fact, a new research study authored by psychologists from the University of Calgary and the University of Manitoba found 44% of mothers with children aged 5-8 years old are experiencing depression and 30% of those mothers are also experiencing anxiety. The percentages are also elevated for mothers with children up to 18 months as well as those with children 18 months to 4 years old.
As part of this program, Menninger is offering a free support group for any mom in Texas. This forum unites moms via teleconference and aims to offer support during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. By forming a community, the group gives moms a way to lean on other moms who are going through the same difficulties due to the healthcare crisis – this important connection may be missing in their lives during the new normal.
Moms may also combine therapeutic services that include individual, couples and educational groups that are supplemented with daily check-in calls from one of the Menninger professionals. The daily calls are designed to support moms with wellness activities. These therapeutic services form an eight-week virtual care package specifically targeting some of the toughest parts about being a mother during this healthcare crisis. The paid therapeutic group and education services tackle topics like managing guilt and crisis survival and offer a safe place for moms to share their stories and receive support. Other add-on services are available, including medication management, spiritual and nutritional counseling and more.
“We want moms to know they’re not alone. The services we offer focus on wellness and are intended to support women along their journey as mothers,” says Elisabeth Netherton, MD, psychiatrist and physician, The Menninger Clinic. “Our goal is to provide a warm, open and inviting space as well as cultivate a community for moms to support each other beyond this program.”
Moms who join the program will benefit from social support from other moms while the group leader provides gentle guidance and helps keep the conversation on track. In addition, participants will get a daily call to help them remember to take care of themselves, including exercise, good sleep habits, a healthy diet, quiet time, and face-to-face time with another adult.
“This program gives moms a judgment-free space to express their feelings and teaches moms self-care skills like sleep therapy, relaxation and nutrition skills that are transferable to all family members,” says Rohr. “There is a real fear for some moms of being labeled as ‘unfit’ if they seek mental health help,” added Rohr. “Some moms feel guilty for spending money on themselves to feel better and others feel they can’t talk to friends or family and, as a result, they feel isolated and with no support.”
The Menninger Moms Program aims to shift the idea of what care looks like for moms. As moms and mental health professionals, Netherton and Rohr are spearheading this program because they know all too well the stressors moms encounter. Their expertise, along with the immediacy and accessibility of the virtual program, are what makes this type of individualized program unique.
The program is open to moms in Texas. If you are a mom who would like to learn more, or a physician who would like to refer a patient, please call us at 713-275-5400.
About The Menninger Clinic – www.MenningerClinic.org
The Menninger Clinic has 95 years of experience diagnosing and treating people with mental illness. Highly trained teams of mental health experts provide a supportive, healing environment coupled with evidence-based treatments that are effective and programs that strengthen skills for making changes in their life that last. Research outcomes demonstrate the effectiveness of Menninger’s specialty programs. Menninger is a private teaching hospital of Baylor College of Medicine’s Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and is a member institution in the Texas Medical Center.