When people think about the benefits of learning they traditionally think of employment benefits such as improved employment prospects, increased earnings and job satisfaction. However, learning can deliver far more powerful emotional and psychological benefits that are often surprising and unexpected.
These positive benefits to emotional wellbeing and mental health; confidence and self-esteem; purpose and identity, can help mothers overcome some of the specific challenges they face in this area.
As part of our #LearnIn campaign encouraging mothers to lean into learning, we’ve interviewed some of our successful learners to find out more about how adult learning can deliver these benefits. Next week look out for our blog on the social benefits of learning too.
Improved emotional wellbeing and mental health
It might surprise you to learn that adult learning fosters a greater level of emotional wellbeing and positive changes in mental health.
Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem. And data shows that working mothers are more stressed than other people – 18% more, in fact, and this figure rises to 40% for those with two children.
As a mother looking after your emotional wellbeing can be the single most important thing you can do for your family. As the saying goes “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. So ditch that guilt and invest some quality time in your own personal development. You won’t regret it.
Check out our interview with Kate who has seen first hand how learning delivers positive benefits to emotional wellbeing.
A new sense of purpose over 50
Evidence shows that adult learning fosters a sense of identity and a feeling of purpose in life, especially in older adults.
According to the Centre for Ageing Better’s “State of Ageing” report we have an ageing population and if we want those over 50 and 60 to be financially secure and happy, we need to ensure they can work for as long as they want to, free from age bias and discrimination.
Some of those most at risk are women that have taken an extended break from the labour market to raise their family, particularly those over 50. The obstacles facing women in their 50s returning from an extended period away from work can be insurmountable. This is hardly surprising as the data shows less than 5% of adult education funding goes to people over 50. It’s no wonder that rates of learning decline sharply after 45.
So is adult learning the answer to better ageing for older women?
Check out our interview with Debbie who found a whole new sense of purpose and identity in her 50s after a 24 year career break. Hear about her journey from intern at cool tech start up to finding new love and migrating down under.
Increased self esteem and confidence
If the above isn’t enough of an incentive to get you learning then let’s explore the impact that adult learning can have on your overall self-esteem and confidence.
The data paints a grim story of mothers struggling with self-esteem and confidence. One study demonstrated mothers of young children showed decreasing self-esteem from pregnancy to hit a low point when their children are three (apart from a spike post-birth). Pregnancy takes a toll on expectant mothers’ self-esteem, due to anxiety about childbirth and the baby’s health as well as body-image issues. Women's self-confidence can also plummet during a career break. Research shows that women on maternity leave start to lose confidence in their ability to return to work just 11 months after giving birth.
Another issue that negatively impacts mothers out of the workplace is the digital skills gap that starts to open up. Feeling outdated can take a particular toll on your self-esteem and self-worth. When that happens, it’s time to find a digital skills course that can help.
Check out our interview with Tori who updated her digital skills while on maternity leave and gained an unexpected boost to her confidence and self-esteem as a result.
While it may not be a cure-all, mothers should definitely take more notice of the potential benefits that adult learning can deliver. Follow our #LearnIn campaign designed to support mothers to 'lean into learning' to find out more.