By: Erica Ehm
As a mom of teens, I’m part of a growing number of women wrestling with the scary decline in our kids’ mental health. Multiple reports indicate that women, especially adolescent girls, are more likely to end up in the emergency department due to a mental health crisis. Many of these young women experience conditions such as anxiety and depression, which can result in thoughts or attempts of suicide.
Being a caregiver to a teen struggling with their mental health takes an emotional toll. We feel helpless. Yet, no one is talking about the deteriorating mental health of mothers and the debilitating ripple effect this is having on those of us drowning in worry as our kids go off the rails in front of us.
Mothers and mental well-being: How to help our kids and help ourselves
When my teen was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, we wasted no time finding her help. We invested hours researching therapists. Without a second thought, we spent money we didn’t have on weekly therapy for her—a life-changing investment.
In the meantime, I wasn’t okay. I couldn’t sleep, tiptoeing into my kid’s room in the middle of the night to check on her. I was exhausted. I couldn’t focus. I would cry at the drop of the hat.
My daughter’s therapist cited client confidentiality when she refused to include me in any sessions. It didn’t make sense to me. Why was no one supporting the caregiver —the adults directly responsible for the day-to-day well-being of the patient?
I know I’m not alone bearing this trauma. I can’t tell you the number of women who have tearfully confided in me, sharing how they’re at their wit’s end trying to navigate the stormy waters with their teens. They feel ashamed and drained. I would suggest speaking to a trained therapist. Even when I hadn’t myself.
Rather than investing time or money on therapy for me, I focused my energy on caring for my child, making myself available 24/7. It was exhausting. That’s why, I was not surprised to learn that according to a recent survey by GreenShield, women in Canada spend seven times more time taking care of others than taking care of their own mental health. That’s exactly what I did.
Women’s counselling and therapy
The results of that survey reinforced the need for GreenShield’s Women’s Mental Health program. As a not-for-profit, the company has a mandate to reinvest its earnings to create social impact. They have a remarkable goal of investing $75 million to improve the lives of at least one million Canadians by 2025.
The GreenShield Cares’ Women’s Mental Health program is an exciting, potentially life-altering initiative. It recognizes the profound mental load women have been carrying since the pandemic by offering free therapy and mental health services to women in Canada. If you identify as a woman over the age of 18 and you live in Canada, you have access to two free hours of virtual therapy with a licensed mental health professional, a one-year subscription to internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) guided by a coach, and access to an online wellness hub to make sure you can find the support that’s right for you.
Finding the right therapist and carving out time for mental health
What’s equally impressive is the thought put into the customization of the program. Therapists are not one-size-fits-all, nor are women. The GreenShield Cares program offers a personalized therapist matching tool, which includes over 50 matching options to ensure you find a mental health professional who can relate to your lived experience.
In my case, it’s a therapist with experience working with teens, who can arm me with tools to cope with anxiety will be a great gift. Offloading my stress and fears onto a professional who can also teach me tactics to help my teen will allow me to worry less and feel more in control of my life. It makes sense that parents of struggling kids would need this kind of support.
Carving out time to spend on something just for you needs to become a priority. You’re not being selfish. You’re being self-aware. Make time to connect with friends, exercise, therapy—do what lights you up. The harsh truth is if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.
Remember, you’re not alone. It’s not just you. It’s not your fault. These are tough times. Take a minute to sign up for two hours of free therapy here now. It’s the best gift you can give yourself, and your family. – Erica Ehm
Start your journey to better mental health
Everyone needs support at one time or another during their life, which is why accessible and effective therapy matters. GreenShield Cares is here to help connect people to the therapy that’s right for them.
The GreenShield Cares program’s personalized counselling matching tool includes over 50 matching options, including culture, race, gender identity, language, and religion, to ensure women can find a mental health professional who shares and/or can relate to their identity and lived experiences. The program offers virtual access to psychotherapists, psychologists, and other professionals whose specialties range from sex therapy, relationship counselling, and trauma, including therapists who specialize in Indigenous mental health services. Intersectionality is at the forefront of the matching process, and the diversity of Canadians is reflected in the diversity of the program’s certified practitioners, with hundreds of the program’s certified practitioners have identified as a person of colour, Indigenous, or Black.
This article contains guidelines or advice not intended to self-diagnose or treat. No content should be used as a substitute for direct advice from a qualified professional such as your doctor or mental health professional. Please reach out for support from a certified professional related to the symptoms you may be experiencing.
If you are in crisis and require immediate support, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. Alternately, please contact the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 (24/7). For residents of Québec, call 1 866 APPELLE (1-866-277-3553).