21 August 2008

Moms Taking Care of Families, Taking Care of Each Other

"Blogger outreach" to moms is a lot more interesting and important when you're not trying to get moms to buy anything. It's even better when you're discussing the things moms care about most.

Recently I had the privilege of working with Families for Depression Awareness, a non-profit organization founded in 2001, and Parent Bloggers Network on a small outreach project designed to introduce FFDA to bloggers everywhere.

Sadly, it seems the timing couldn't be better. If you've kept up with the mom-o-sphere at all, you know plenty of people are not happy.

So we threw together a quick survey to get a discussion started. It's not scientific, but it was still interesting. Thanks to PBN, 137 bloggers responded.

About 3 out of every 4 bloggers who responded agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "I'm so busy taking care of my family's emotional needs that I don't have much time to take care of my own."

More than 60% of the responding bloggers said they hide their feelings because they think their kids will be hurt in some way if they see mom reacting to stress or depression.

And 1 out of 4 bloggers said they wished they had the courage to ask for help for themselves or someone in their family. About half said they wanted more information about available resources.

This is all sad, certainly - but to be candid, given the times it's not that surprising.

What struck me, however, was how much these moms rely on their online community - perhaps even more than the people in closest physical proximity to them. About 60 percent said the blogosphere was where they went to find support from moms with similar challenges. And nearly 9 out of 10 people who participated said they feel as close or closer to the people they talk with online as they do the parents in their own neighborhoods.

Then we asked a few of the people who responded to the survey if they'd be interested in speaking with some people from FFDA. They help families recognize and cope with depressive disorders to get people well and prevent suicides. They try to reduce the stigma associated with depressive disorders. And they try to unite families to help them heal and cope. Julie Totten, the President and Founder of the group, spoke with all the moms. From Julie's public bio:
In 1990, Julie lost her brother, who was undiagnosed, to suicide. A year later, after learning about depression, she helped her father get diagnosed for this condition. Julie recently formed Families for Depression Awareness to help others understand depression and reduce stigma associated with the condition.
We also included Dr. Myrna Weissman, a pioneer in interpersonal psychotherapy, on the call to provide an additional level of perspective from an expert. (Sorry Stefania, I know you're asked to talk with "experts" a lot but hopefully you'll agree this is one worth listening to.) I hope the moms who talked with Julie and Dr. Wiessman got something out of the discussion but they will speak for themselves.

Again, the survey is not scientific - but it does make you think. Perhaps the mom-o-sphere isn't just a place where marketers ask women to talk about how fabulous the latest brand is. Perhaps moms have more to say than what was on Oprah that day or what their kids had for breakfast. Perhaps we have an obligation to make a substantive contribution to these important discussions.

And perhaps moms, when shown what kind of resources are out there, can muster the courage to talk about their own private challenges and help show other moms where they can find help to meet their own.

So kudos and thanks to Dr. Myrna Weismann and Julie Totten and Stacey Leibowitz of Families for Depression Awareness. Special thanks to Parent Bloggers Network. And of course, many thanks to the bloggers who participated:

Amy Tucker, Taste Like Crazy
Rita Arens, Surrender Dorothy
Jenn Satterwhite, Mommy Needs Coffee
Christina McMenemy, A Mommy Story
Vivien Bruss, Cool Moms Rule
Dana Tuzske, The Dana Files
Alyson, Three P's in a Pod
Dianne Hoffman, The Mommy Diaries
Kristen Chase, Motherhood Uncensored
Julie Marsh, Mothergoosemouse

I'm trying to get audio of the discussions over to the folks at FFDA, but the audio quality (I HATE SPEAKERPHONES) is giving me fits right now and there were some other distractions during the discussions so it's taking me longer than I hoped, but it will happen sometime soon.


Rita Arens said...

Thanks for pulling this together. I feel like bloggers have a duty to talk about the unspoken sometimes. If we don't do it, who will?

mothergoosemouse said...

I was really pleased by how this project turned out. Thanks for a fantastic opportunity to get moms talking and feeling comfortable sharing their questions and experiences. I hope to keep the discussion going!

Diane said...

Thank you for this opportunity. I learned a lot and I agree, I think it came at the perfect time.

Christina said...

I didn't even realize at the time that I was depressed - I started to realize it during the phone call, actually. So it was the perfect time to address this topic!