In this video we talk about maternal mental health and we explore how this can show up in our work as coaches.
We can think of mental health as a continuum with three different zones; thriving at one end and struggling at the other, and the middle zone we might describe as surviving. As coaches, we tend to work with clients when they are thriving - they are typically feeling resourceful and positive and want to use coaching as a breathing space to step away from the busyness of their lives and re-connect with what is important to them.
However, a client may come to coaching when they are in the surviving zone. It could be that they are in need of something other than coaching, in which case we might signpost them towards different helping professions. But sometimes, coaching can be the right solution when the client isn’t in the grip of a mental health illness, yet they recognise that something isn’t quite right.
In our work as maternity coaches this can include many things such as feeling overwhelmed by the changes in their life, exhaustion from lack of sleep combined with high stress levels due to workload or feelings of anxiety prompted by seemingly endless conflicting priorities.
A recent report states that 11% of women suffer with mental illness as a direct result of their return to work and motherhood. Often when we think about maternal mental health, we think of postnatal depression in the early days of motherhood (aka the baby blues) or depression whilst on maternity leave. In our experience, a mental health challenge where you find yourself in the surviving zone can happen at any time; upon your return to work or even after you have been back at work for some time.
As coaches, we have an ethical responsibility to ensure that where the need of the client is outside of the scope of coaching, we support the client to find the right helping professional for them. Sometimes we will coach clients whilst they are also having therapy. Occasionally it takes a coaching session for a client to acknowledge that they may be struggling and in need of a different form of support. Yet, we do support lots of women in the surviving zone which is a very common place to find yourself as a working parent.
Our intention in sharing this video is to open up the conversation around maternal mental health and encourage women to recognise when they might be in the surviving zone. Our work as coaches sees us partnering with clients at all stages of parenthood - please get in touch if you’d like to find out more.
My colleague Sarah Turner and I have been busy creating content highlighting the importance of organisations providing support for working parents. As part of this, we created this video series exploring the entire journey of maternity leave, from before the leave starts, through to preparing to return and then the first few months back at work.
If your organisation would like to understand more about how to support line managers in managing their employees as they take parental leave, please get in touch.
This blog post is a collaboration between Maternity Coaches Laura Duggal and Sarah Turner. They are working together, sharing their experiences and bringing the best of their joint advice and knowledge to you.