Berlin Cameron recently partnered with Kantar, The Female Quotient, and Romper to poll 1,000 male and female caretakers to find out whether they find themselves diving into more activism, after the last 15 months of political, social, and world health unrest. The good news is: Parents and caretakers are more involved than ever, with one third of parents considering themselves activists and one in four reporting that they’re more active in that area than the year prior. And they’re passionate about activism to create a better world for their children, with 70% calling it the reason they get involved.

While that passion for activism is clearly a positive, one number in the poll really struck me: The largest percentage (35%) of parents think mental health is the issue that’s most affecting their families, with females being more concerned about mental health than their male counterparts. That number was even higher for the women we polled. It’s no wonder, when you think about it: Even within those social, political, and health issues, our own families have been at the forefront of the headlines as well. Women have had to drop out of the workforce in record numbers, and families have had to adapt and shoulder even more caretaking responsibilities than ever before as the pandemic took away most of the social support systems for our children (schools, sports, activities, etc.).

The takeaway here is: America’s families are struggling. The country was already having a mental health crisis before the pandemic hit, but the challenges of the pandemic brought the crisis even further to the forefront. Families are struggling to find the mental health resources that they need and the help to get their families back on track.

The challenge of finding mental health assistance is something I can relate to personally: My husband and I moved our family across the country mid-pandemic. It was a move we’d been thinking about making for several years, but COVID-19 made it apparent to us that we wanted to be on the West Coast. We thought our two young boys would bounce back quickly, because kids are so resilient, but they struggled with the move and the new environment. (Los Angeles is, after all, very foreign for two kids who’ve spent their entire lives in New York City.)

I called so many counselors and therapists that I lost count, trying to find an appointment— and struck out time and time again. Even in a place like L.A., where therapy and self-care are not just accepted, but the norm, it was a real struggle to get my family the help and support we needed.

So what can we, as parents and caretakers do, to make things better? The good news is that, with more caretakers getting involved, we can make a change. On a recent Female Quotient/Cannes Lions panel, Romper’s April Hussar noted, “The pandemic has laid bare these huge terrible cracks in our society. As parents, we don’t want to go back to before, where school was so often treated as a band-aid in our society. We want to go forward to something better, and we’re really motivated to work and advocate and make something better.”

Some other thoughts on how to move forward came out of the panel as well:

There should be more paths for women to be elected into positions of power. “Men are more likely to sit on a school board, while women bring cupcakes to school. You see a lot of gendered issues around what it means to be an activist. Men are still asked to be in more high-profile positions,” said author Eve Rodsky. “It’s the same way that women are not in government. We hate mothers in our society, and we have no social safety net for women. We don’t allow women to pay for their childcare as part of their campaign expenses, so how do we open up those paths for people with kids? We only have five members of Congress with kids under the age of 18.”

Women need a better social safety net. “Only in a country where we have a social safety net for women (but also men) and make sure our local and federal governments get involved will we see change. Every society has been built on the unpaid labor of women and when paid, the backs of women of color so I will devote my life to changing that dynamic,” Eve noted.

We still need more open conversations around mental health. “Eighty-five to 95% of women of color suffer in silence; look at Naomi Osaka and the backlash she received. If she’s receiving that kind of backlash, think about the rest of us and how challenging that can be. We need to continue having these conversations, talking about mental health as health,” coach Colette Ellis said. “We need more prominent people talking about their own struggles and taking a stand for their mental health. And even within our families and communities, how can we provide support? What comes top down and what are we doing individually in our collective groups to make people feel safe/comfortable to share?”

Families also have to get involved. “Being from another country, I’ve been questioning the role of family and knowing how important extended friends and families can be. So how do we shape the role of that extended support system? What do we do to change that? We always say it takes a village, so we should create that village to the point that they become a real support system,” Carmen Bohoyo of Kantar said.

Businesses need to make changes that impact women as well. “One thing that surprised me in the survey is that people don’t seem to think businesses/companies are anywhere at the top of the list of the entities that can affect change,” April said. “Even though it’s not a mandate from the government, we need companies to offer fair maternity leave and flexible schedules. We can advocate all we want, but we need to hold these people accountable and we need them to step up.”

As families continue to navigate the mental health crisis, we need to make sure we’re having open, honest conversations with our partners, our children, and our communities about how we can support one another through these difficult times. And as more caretakers get inspired to be activists, we should start the build the systems and resources that will set our children up for future success — and solid mental health.


  • Jennifer DaSilva


    Berlin Cameron

    Jennifer DaSilva is a seasoned integrated marketer with 20 years of experience working on Fortune 500 brands. As president of WPP creative agency Berlin Cameron, Jennifer has spent the last 15 years managing key accounts like Coca-Cola, Heineken, Lexus and Capital One.

    Jennifer is a champion of entrepreneurship, having launched LLShe, a Berlin Cameron division that empowers female entrepreneurs through connections and creativity. She was named a Direct Marketing News Woman to Watch and one of the Financial Times HERoes.  Jennifer has also been recognized as a Working Mom of the Year by She Runs It and was given the Campaign US Choice Award for Fearless Pioneer for her “noteworthy, badass work across the industry.” Her mission is to foster meaningful connections through authentic and vulnerable communication.

    Jennifer sits on the national boards of Girl Up and the National Kidney Foundation where last year she received the Visionary Leader Award for her service.

    She graduated with honors from Boston College and lives in New York with her husband and two active sons.

    Connect with Jennifer on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.