A Q&A With Dana Davino, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Strategic Interventionist at RevCore.
Motherhood is filled with moments of deep joy and meaning. Yet for many women, it also brings with it feelings of stress, isolation, and even depression. In this interview with Dana Davino, a mother of two and mental health counselor, we talk about the challenges of being a working mother, the importance of community support and self-care, how to balance motherhood with personal and professional growth, and more.
Q: Can you share some challenges you’ve faced as a mother and how they’ve influenced your work with clients?
Earning my Masters degree while raising two children, and working all at the same time was challenge. At one point, I almost dropped out because I couldn’t find someone to pick up my kids. Fortunately, my kind aunt stepped in and volunteered — teaching me humility, gratitude, and how difficult it can be to ask for help. I’ve since realized that people often hesitate to ask for help because it’s uncomfortable and vulnerable. That’s why, in my counseling and coaching work, I proactively offer support, always asking the question, “How can I make it easier for you to receive help?”
One of the most common misconceptions is that seeking help is a sign of weakness. Many people believe that they should be able to handle everything on their own and that asking for help implies that they’re not capable or strong enough. I work with my clients to reframe this idea and to recognize that seeking help is actually a sign of strength and resilience.
Q: As a busy working mother, how do you find time for self-care and maintaining your mental health? What strategies have you found to be most effective?
A: Finding time for self-care and mental health can definitely be difficult, but it’s so important for our well-being. As mothers, we tend to prioritize what absolutely needs to get done, leaving little time left for what we really enjoy. I’ve found that creating self-care routines in the morning is really helpful for me. So, I wake up early, before my kids, to journal, meditate, and then hit the gym after I drop them off at school. I also make time for hobbies I love, like acrylic painting. And, I’m fortunate to have a great support system of family and friends who help me navigate the ups and downs of motherhood and work life.
Q: How has motherhood impacted your personal and professional growth, and what have you learned about yourself through those experiences?
A: Motherhood has been a transformative journey for me, both personally and professionally. As a single mother with two kids and multiple jobs, I initially struggled to balance everything and often felt like I was falling short. But over time, I learned to pursue my goals, such as earning my PhD. In the process, I discovered that the narratives we tell ourselves can be self-limiting, and that it’s essential to challenge those narratives to avoid stagnation and achieve our full potential. I also learned the importance of focusing on progress rather than perfection, and of maintaining connections with friends and family to avoid burnout. These lessons have shaped me in profound ways and have helped me better support my clients as well.
Q: What role do you see community support playing when it comes to the mental health of mothers?
A: Community support is absolutely vital, and I’ve seen firsthand the incredible ways in which mothers can come together to uplift and empower one another. In my own life, I prioritize spending time with those who lift me up and make me feel valued and supported. My friends are people who I can truly be myself with, and we have deep, unguarded conversations. I don’t tolerate toxic people. I also encourage my kids to do the same, by helping them develop a frame of reference for evaluating friendships from an early age.
Q: As a mother and mental health professional, what concerns do you have regarding children’s mental health today?
A: It worries me that there has been a significant rise in anxiety and depression among children, especially during the pandemic. Social isolation, lack of connection, and uncertainty about the future have all contributed to this. It’s heartbreaking when I see kids struggling with complex emotions without knowing how to express them or having the tools to cope. Children often look to us as their parents to know how and what to feel. If we brush off or invalidate our child’s feelings, they may start to second-guess themselves and lose trust in their emotions. My advice to parents is to be in tune with your child’s emotions, provide them with the language to express how they’re feeling, and give them space to process and self-soothe. Children who know how to self-soothe become emotionally regulated adults.
Q: What message do you want to share with mothers this Mother’s Day?
A: Your presence in your children’s lives makes all the difference. Be consistent: establish boundaries, priorities, and values that your children know they can rely on. And finally, never underestimate the impact of simply showing up. By being present and engaged in their life, you create a sense of security and trust that is essential for their healthy emotional and psychological development.
To all the incredible moms out there, wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day!