Who do mothers rely on for support?
Research with mothers suggests that many mothers rely on themselves more than anyone else. However, it is very important and good for your health, to spend time and surround yourself with people who are supportive towards you.
Research has shown that mothers with stronger life supports actually experience better physical and mental health. In a study of over 150 mothers of children with a disability, 53 percent of mothers said that they relied on themselves more than anyone for support as well as caring for their children, advocating for their children, organising and accessing services for their children with additional needs. However, mothers who were more self-reliant had the lowest mental health and wellbeing. The research showed that the other women in the research, who said that they relied more on another significant other such as a partner, mother, sister or another mother of a child with a disability, reported significantly better health and wellbeing. This means that having another adult or adult in your life who you consider to be supportive is associated with better health.
In the words of past participants:
I realised the importance of social support or friendships to my health. I don’t think that I made that link before…
Twelve months ago I was pushing everyone away. I just thought, they don’t understand…But it’s up to me to change that. It’s not up to them, because only I can inform them.
If you currently feel in need of friends and supportive people, then it is time to think about ways that you can make changes to bring support towards you. In the HMHF workshops, we ask mothers to reflect on the people around them. We ask mothers to identify and optimise supports for their own health and wellbeing.
You may have supportive people in your life—at home, in the community, at your child’s school or elsewhere. Identifying the people who are most supportive to you serves two purposes.
- When identified, you can nurture and maintain these supports in your life.
- Reflection on the people around you and your child may highlight gaps in your support network.
You may decide that filling the gap is a priority. Are there any risks to your main life supports? Can they be strengthened? If you can think of ways to nurture and maintain your three important life supports, write them into the column. This activity aims to assist you to think about the people in your life who provide support.
Supportive people are very important in daily life. Making positive connections with others in daily life can promote your own health and wellbeing.