Moms for Mental Health helps foster open discussions for moms who are dealing with mental health issues, and advocates for better community health resources.
Moms for Mental Health Founder, Jillian Amodio, is a young mother of two who is aiming to help her community address mental health issues at home and in the community.
“It all started last March,” Amodio says. “Because I knew what it was like as an individual who has struggled with things like eating disorders, anxiety, and postpartum depression. And I also knew what it was like to parent a child who was struggling with their own mental health issues.”
Amodio (pictured at right), who is working toward her degree in social work, noticed that mental health was almost shameful to talk about in a lot of places. “Friends and family didn’t understand all the time. So you kind of had to tiptoe around who you were allowed to talk to about this kind of thing. If you talked about it in moms groups, you would get some supportive feedback, but often you would get feedback that was really judgmental or unkind.”
“One day I made a Facebook post on a moms group. It was simple, something like, ‘Hey, here’s what I’m dealing with. Here’s what my child’s dealing with. It feels like a lonely struggle. Does anyone want to meet for coffee once a month and just talk?’ ”
Amodio says the post got more than 30 responses, way more than she had expected. So, she says, “We created a Facebook group. And then within six months it grew to 1,000 people and a year later, we’re just over 2,000 members.”
The goal of Moms for Mental Health was to have a safe space for discussion, which is just what it has become. “People say all the time, ‘This is the place I come to where I know I won’t be judged for a question, or when I know I won’t be judged for this emotion I’m feeling or when I just need guidance.’ ”
If someone is looking for help but isn’t ready to post in the group just yet, they can reach out to the Joy Squad, which is a group of trained members who are available to chat by messenger with anyone who is feeling overwhelmed, facing a difficult time or in need of resources.
The group also holds monthly meetings, which used to be in-person, but are virtual for the time being. Meetings usually feature a guest speaker or some sort of self esteem or confidence boosting activity. “We also have a monthly teen talk, where we have pizza and team-building games. But it’s run very organically and I let the teens lead the discussion.”
They also hold youth meetups that focus on encouraging socialization among peers who understand and respect mental health struggles, which usually include games and crafts.
In addition to the Facebook group and meetings, Amodio conducts interviews with local mental health providers and groups, and shares them on momsformentalhealth.com.
Plus, she says, “We have a massive resource list that has been compiled from recommendations that our members have sent us—whether it be for counseling, psychological testing, special needs. We even have resources for domestic violence, homelessness, food pantries, and elder care.”
In addition to helping local moms and families with resources and community building, Moms for Mental Health is active in creating mental health awareness through local legislation. “We helped get a law passed that allows for State Highway electronic boards to be used to display suicide prevention messages,” Amodio says. And Moms for Mental Health spoke at the county council meeting in favor of having mental health declared a county crisis, which passed as well.
“We’re very active in local legislation. We’re talking with County Councilwoman Fidler to hopefully get some sort of Memorial Garden in our county, where the youth in our schools who’ve lost friends to mental health issues can go to be contemplative and express their grief.”
So what’s next for Moms for Mental Health? Amodio says, “Eventually, we would like to turn Moms for Mental Health into a full nonprofit, where we can actually help come up with funding towards more of these things like Memorial Gardens or a yearly night of remembrance for everyone in the community who has been affected by mental health.”
In the meantime, she says, “We’re going to continue to work with the county council and the Board of Education to keep talking about mental health, especially for our youth. We want to continue to work with the schools and reach these kids as young as possible.”
For more information, you can visit momsformentalhealth.com or find the group on Facebook.
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