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Moms: First Responders in Family Mental Health


One of the benefits of running a Facebook page for your cause or business is that you get to see data on the age and gender of the people who like, share or comment on your page and posts.  Facebook calls the people who like your page “fans.”  According to the website zephoria.com, 53% of Facebook users are female.  So isn’t it remarkable that 85% of fans of the rtor.org Facebook page are women and girls?  When you look at the “people engaged” numbers (those who like, share or comment on a specific post), female support rises to 88%!

The age of RtoR’s support base is also worth examining.  The largest age bracket of all Facebook users is 25 to 34-year-olds.  Yet 79% of people engaged on RtoR’s Facebook page are 45 or older!  These numbers are not as surprising as they seem at first.  What class of female Facebook users 45 and older is most interested in family mental health issues?  The answer is obvious:  Mothers!

This realization came to me while I was looking at the Facebook results for a recent post on the importance of talking to college-bound youth about mental health: Teen Suicide: What One Mother Is Doing to Stop It from Happening to Someone Else’s Kid.   That post had a female engagement rate of 95%.  I told Holly Hinds, the author of the original article that appeared in the Weston Forum, why I think this is:  In most families, Mothers are the early warning detectors, first responders and case managers for family mental health.

This is certainly true in my professional experience of listening to parents of both genders talk about their mental health concerns for their children.  Dads are often quite involved in the ongoing care of a son or daughter with ongoing serious mental illness – particularly when there is a crisis.  But moms are almost always the first to notice a problem in the family and to seek initial help for a child with a mental health issue.  This is also true of my own family experience of mental health – first, as a sibling and later, as a parent.  I wrote about my own efforts to help a brother with schizophrenia earlier this month.  But it was our mother who first recognized the problem and to this day continues to be his principal caregiver in the family.

It makes sense that a website and social media devoted to early intervention and the identification of mental health resources would be used mainly by women of mothering age for adult and adolescent offspring.  This Sunday, as we honor Mother’s Day, let’s give recognition and thanks to the special way that the mothers in our lives express their caring.


Throughout the month of May, RtoR.org will release a daily Post
of the Day in observance of Mental Health Awareness Month

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Jay Boll, Editor in Chief www.rtor.org