How Society Has Turned Its Back on Mothers

In Healthcare On
- Updated

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To get another perspective on burnout, I spoke to Dr. Wendy Dean, a psychiatrist who has dedicated her career to fighting moral injury in physicians, which is the concept that systemic problems in the medical industry prevent doctors from doing what they know is right for their patients. Dr. Dean said what working moms are facing is not identical, but it’s similar, and a consequence of “our society’s decision to pursue profit at all cost.”

The crushing toll on working mothers’ mental health reflects a level of societal betrayal, according to Dr. Dean. “This isn’t burnout — this is societal choice,” she said. “It’s driving mothers to make decisions that nobody should ever have to make for their kids.”

“Betrayal” describes what my patients are feeling exactly. While burnout places the blame (and thus the responsibility) on the individual and tells working moms they aren’t resilient enough, betrayal points directly to the broken structures around them.

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