Posted by nechakogal on May 13, 2012 · Comments Off
I thought I would just rattle off a post for Mother’s Day, but it became more complicated when (partly spurred by this article) I began to think of all the things we cast upon mothering in social work. Mothering is the focus of much risk management in social work whether in child protection, family care, and/or health and mental health. Just read Margolin’s Under the Cover of Kindness: The Invention of Social Work or Kunzel’s Fallen Women, Problem Girls: Unmarried Mothers and the Professionalization of Social Work, 1890-1945, or this Critical Social Work Journal article on social work with young teen mothers.
I have worked with many mothers in my social work career. None of these women were married to investment bankers, but many of these women experienced mental health problems from dissociative disorders to postpartum onset depression and addictions. Firstly, and thankfully, none of these women injured their children during the period we were working together, however, one had lost her children permanently to the system due previous bouts of postpartum depression related child abuse. Everyone of the women who experienced postpartum onset of MH problems shared in common a lack of familial, community support and understanding/knowledge about postpartum complications.
By the time I received a referral many of them had already been interacting with child protective services, and building rapport was a monumental task. On the other side of things, I was surprised when I discovered that some of the woman had already experienced prolonged bouts of PP onset depression over several pregnancies that went undetected by any of her health care providers. This in spite of the fact that we know 1 in 10 women will experience some sort of postpartum complications. Anyway, by the time I met them they often presented as guardedly cooperative. This would leave me relying on their behaviour and physical appearance to gauge how they were doing and it was a long uphill battle to build any kind of relationship in order to restore their confidence in their mothering abilities.
I believe a less adversarial and a more holistic caring open system where people want/seek to interact with agencies and services would ameliorate these issues to a greater degree. We all know the reality is that cost cutting and risk management imperatives, that are both a result of these dollar saving measures and the need for public relations, have reduced the possibility for these kinds of open systems of care to almost nil in Canada, UK, USA, Australia and so on. But the fight must go on, and in honour of Mother’s Day and the stress burden that these women bear disproportionately in society, I once again plead the case for genuine progress indicators, a reinvestment in health and well-being in all our communities. In order to do this we would have to take structural inequities seriously and we would measure our services by the value we offer to the people we serve, not the powers that be. This goal is bigger than social work can solve on its own, so thankfully, many other professions agree. Here are some resources for organizations that are seeking genuine progress indicators: The Canadian Index of Wellbeing, The Centre for Partnership Studies, This goal can be achieved as is evidenced by countries where mothering is less of burden such as Sweden and Norway.
Some other interesting links from around the Web on mothering: