Thursday, 20 February 2014

Help for teen moms hard to find

Help for teen moms hard to find
I was happy to see this article about a woman taking the initiative to break the cycle of teen pregnancy. (

For as long as I've lived in Woodstock, I have heard about and seen all the teen moms pushing their babies in strollers down Dundas Street. (Don't tell me you haven't ... it goes along with all the shirtless men in Market Square as soon as temperature rise).
It's not a phenomenon in the Friendly City (although maybe our teens are getting a bit too friendly too soon here), but teen moms (parents) are everywhere.

But what I discovered recently in my quest to help a young mom suffering from depression, is that her options for help are limited. She is too old for youth programs (19), but still very much a child. With no job, a one-year-old at home, and only a high school education, she feels stuck, isolated, alone and unmotivated.

She can't afford counselling on her own, and the wait times for free services is several months. Her doctor has prescribed meds, but that's not the answer to her mental health crises.
It seems there are several resources for teens during pregnancy (Oxford County Public Health, Beginnings each have teen prenatal programs), but what happens after the baby is born?

Public Health continues to support the baby, and for children 18 and younger Oxford-Elgin Child and Youth  Centre (OECYC) can offer walk-in counselling.

But what about that 19-year-old girl. What happens when that young girl loses her friends because they don't have babies, when her family is too busy with their own lives to help. Even teen moms coming from fully supportive families must feel overwhelmed ... I sure did when I had my kids and I was an adult with a career. 

In an attempt to help this struggling girl, I searched for a teen mom support group or some counselling she could immediately access. While there are many support groups for new moms, there lacked any teen-focused groups (or at least we not advertised or promoted.) A teen, with no life experience, may feel intimidated to join a general mom group with married, divorced, women with jobs.

Oxford County Public Health does offer a home visiting program to help mothers and encourages them to use other community resources.

And apparently Beginnings offers a young mom support group during the week, however, there is not mention of this on their website. And again Fusion Youth Centre in Ingersoll is said to have a life skills program for new young moms, however, again no mention of this on their website.

As an educated and fully internet-capable indiviual who is connected to my community, I found it difficult to find out about any of these programs. How do we expect a struggling young mom to find out?

A better communications strategy should be developed to encourage and promote struggling young moms to access what is available in our communities.

They need guidance to build up their confidence to pursue their life's goals.

Disclaimer: However, it takes a young mom who is willing to accept help to get help!

***A program for teen moms in Tillsonburg area has been found! Avondale Church provides 2 hrs of free daycare while teen moms participate in a group session about various topics from mental health and nutrition to parenting and spa days! Lunch is served to the group on some of the days. No registration is required and it runs for 16 weeks.


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