What do Mother’s Day, Mental Health Awareness and Teacher Appreciation all have in common?
By Ruth Mendelson, MSW, LCSW
Mother’s Day, Mental Health Awareness Month, and Teacher Appreciation Week all fall in the month of May. Is that a coincidence? While it may or may not be, the significance of these three recognitions occurring within the same month is worth taking a look.
It cannot be denied that there is an intersection between Mother’s Day, Mental Health Awareness, and Teacher Appreciation.
Let’s dive in and explore.
On the surface, Mother’s Day is intended to be celebrated as a way to honor the mother of the family, motherhood, maternal bonds, and the role of mothers in our individual and collective lives. Just like any holiday, we can have complicated relationships with various aspects of what is or is not being celebrated. Mother’s Day is no exception.
Over the last several years, there has been more overt acknowledgement of the fact that Mother’s Day is not a celebratory day for all. And there is a need for sensitivity, kindness, and awareness on Mother’s Day. Maybe you have read stories or seen images placing an emphasis on:
- Mothers who have lost children
- Those who have lost mothers
- Those with strained mother relationships
- Mothers with strained child relationships
- Those who have chosen not to be mothers
- Those yearning to be mothers
This is a list recognizing human experience. Paying attention to the variety of feelings and emotions that can come up for people related to Mother’s Day is healthy and supports Mental Health Awareness. It is a positive and inclusive step in validating, honoring and uniting the many ways that different people experience Mother’s Day.
Mental Health Awareness and Teacher Appreciation
While Mother’s Day sharing the month of May with Mental Health Awareness Month and Teacher Appreciation Week may be coincidental, it is not hard to see the symbolism and meaning in the grouping.
In the U.S.,the vast majority of professional teachers are women, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 76% of teachers are female. The role teachers play in the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of children has been put under a magnifying glass during the global pandemic we are all experiencing. It is not just the children but the parents, family, and caregivers of school-aged children that are relying on teachers in unprecedented ways.
Teachers have always played a fundamental role in the lives of children, but in the last year the list of responsibilities teachers have has grown. Teachers have been known to wear many hats and in 2020-2021, teachers have added the following to their list:
- Media and digital platform expert (remote school)
- Nurse (temperature checking)
- Janitor (constantly sanitizing)
- Mind reader (sometimes teachers have spend the entire school year using virtual platforms without ever seeing their students, teaching entire curriculums to students they have never seen)
And while we take time to recognize and appreciate teachers and the undeniably essential role they play in the lives of their students, it is essential to mention the many mothers and fathers, as well as other caregivers, that have taken on the role of teacher during this past year.
Being thrust into unexpected roles and taking on new responsibilities is an experience so many teachers, mothers, fathers and caregivers have shared during the pandemic and that is where the Mental Health Awareness month comes into play.
For many, the weight of the additional roles taken on has resulted in stress, depression, overextension, exhaustion and anxiety. Mental Health Awareness is connected to our well-being and ability to cope.
In the spirit of the connection between Mother’s Day, Teacher Appreciation Week, and Mental Health Awareness month sharing the month of May, if you are looking to strengthen your well-being or are struggling and concerned, please reach out. A licensed therapist or counselor can support you with your well-being goals.
Ruth enjoys spending time with her family, friends and dog. She loves to cook, spend time outdoors and go to the beach (even when it’s cold outside).
Check out Ruth’s professional bio here!
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- Ways to support well-being on Mother’s Day
- Learn more about Teacher Appreciation Week
- Mental Health Awareness Toolkit