Meet our Mom Deb - IWK Health Centre

Explore the story of one Mom and how her experience
demonstrates the role of community service providers
in Mothers’ Mental Health.
Meet our Mom
MoM is a Mothers’ Mental Health Toolkit
Project Learning Video
with Dr. Joanne MacDonald
Reproductive Mental Health Service
IWK Health Centre
Halifax, NS
Meet our Mom MoM
As a community service provider to mothers
and young families you can create opportunities
to promote and support mothers’ mental health.
A mother’s positive mental health promotes
the development of her child in physical growth
and health, a solid self-esteem, confidence and
skill in learning, emotional regulation and
relationship success throughout life.
Meet our Mom MoM
• In the series, Meet our Mom MoM, the Mothers’ Mental Health
Toolkit Project team will introduce you to case descriptions drawn
From the real experiences of our mental health clinicians and our
Family Resource Centre partner staff.
• These Moms have common presentations and problems that will
challenge you to define your possible role and contributions to her
well being. The Moms will also provide examples of how you might
use some of the Toolkit resources in your work.
• Have a copy of your Toolkit out for reference as we begin to
Meet our Moms.
• You could also print off this presentation and make notes as you go.
Meet our Mom Deb
• Deb is a 37 yo hairdresser and part-time
waitress, parenting an 18 mo old son
• Pregnancy was unplanned; occurred in a casual
partnership; good relationship now; co-parenting
and helping with financial support
• Moved across country from the small town she
grew up in; a few other friends in hospitality
industry; one a parent
Meet our Mom Deb
• Always wanted to be a mother; concerned about
long hours, daycare, his attachment
• Quit smoking and drinking alcohol in pregnancy
• History of polysubstance use in teens, early 20s,
“rough time”
• Attends play group on Monday day off
• Lately very tense, jittery, less interested, withdrawn,
smoking again on breaks
Meet our Mom Deb
What are 3 possible mental health issues for
Meet our Mom Deb
The Toolkit Project Team identified:
1. Deb is older than many single parents.
Perhaps she is feeling isolated, no breaks
from childcare or work, building up stress.
2. She has a history of substance use; could
she be vulnerable to a relapse of some use.
3. Her concerns about attachment may lead to
exploration about why that is so important to
Meet our Mom Deb
What would you like to know more about this
Meet our Mom Deb
The Toolkit Team wondered about:
1. How does she feel she is coping with solo
• Deb says she loves her son dearly but lately feels
guilty about wanting a break from him
occasionally, but she doesn’t like to get a
babysitter where he is in daycare full-time. She is
staying up too late trying to have time for herself
and is then tired and irritable, tense during the
Meet our Mom Deb
2. What were her hopes for his experience
growing up? Did she have thoughts from her
own childhood?
• Deb discloses that she wasn’t close to her
family, that she knew a lot of conflict, that
her mother did “whatever she could to
escape”. She said she would never do that
and yet she sometimes feels like running
Meet our Mom Deb
3.You ask what Deb’s stress releases were in
the past? Do they fit with her life as a
mother now?
• Deb says she used to party with friends after
the restaurant closed; have a drink or two
with other wait staff; liked to dance. She has
begun to drink “just a little wine” and watch
her taped TV shows after Jon is in bed. “It
should be OK; it’s not like before”.
Meet our Mom Deb
What could be the role for you or your
organization in her mental health as a mother?
Meet our Mom Deb
Possible roles and contributions:
1. You could approach the whole idea of mothers and
stress relief in a group series after play group; no one
person’s approaches or problems would be highlighted.
Exploring substance use could be a component.
2. You could explore other socializing possibilities in
your community for Deb, that don’t involve partying or
drinking, that she could participate in with Jon.
3. Deb may benefit from exercises that look at selfconcept and expectations, reducing the ideal of
motherhood she tries to live up to.
Meet our Mom Deb
How might you use the Toolkit resource with Deb?
1. Pages 32 and 33 explore the idea of stress and our
responses generally. Stress is a risk factor for mental
health and addiction problems
Meet our Mom Deb
• As part of your group activity you begin a list of how
anyone might cope with stress, loss, pressure etc. and
emphasize that the list should include response we
think of as ‘good’ and those we think may be ‘bad’ or
• What is harmful at one age and stage may change as
life changes.
• Have the women privately check out substance use
screening tools on Pages 39 & 40 of the Toolkit.
Meet our Mom Deb
• Deb comes to you before the next group and says she
thinks she might be a risk of problem drinking again.
“But I don’t want to make a big deal out of a few
glasses of wine; that’s OK right?”
• Your support her open consideration of what is and
isn’t working for her well-being at this time of life.
• You suggest she track her thoughts, emotions and
responses for her own research.
• Pages 151 & 152 can be used to track any behavior or
symptom of interest to the mom.
Meet our Mom Deb
• You talk in the group about patterns and how it is
typical for us to resist changing patterns.
• Pages 44 & 45 look at who we would like to be and
what change might be necessary to work towards
that self-defined goal. Looking at substance use could
be an aspect of that change.
Meet our Mom Deb
• Key points in working with mothers and possible
substance use:
1. We all have patterns and responses when under stress;
approach substance use as you would any other behaviour
or strategy.
2. Stigma and shame around being a mother with an addiction
problem can limit disclosure and consideration of change
or intervention. Address those barriers first in your
3. People change most when they seek the change. Explore
the mom’s situation and goals before you assume them, or
impose your wish for her onto her.
Meet our Mom Deb
Other Resources: – A BC based website that
explores policies and approaches; has a specific
section on Pregnancy, Mothering and Substance
Use; see what you think and check out some of
the links – A US
government website with self-directed questions
and strategies; Thinking About a Change is a
helpful click point
Thank You!

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