Launched on Mother’s Day 2020, Tough as a Mother is a statewide campaign connecting pregnant and parenting mothers to substance use disorder treatment services and recovery support within their communities. The campaign embraces an honest and empathetic approach to the challenges of motherhood, emphasizing the inherent strength of mothers in overcoming obstacles, including substance use disorders.

Breaking the Stigma Surrounding Maternal Substance Use

In both Colorado and nationwide, accidental overdose and suicide are leading causes of maternal mortality, yet women are under-diagnosed and subsequently under-treated for substance use disorders as compared to their male counterparts. Stigma, or negative and discriminatory attitudes and beliefs that society holds toward people who struggle with behavioral health conditions, is one of the greatest barriers that keep pregnant and parenting moms from seeking support related to their substance use. 

Tough as a Mother seeks to break that stigma through storytelling, education, and increased social support, while simultaneously linking moms to gender-specific treatment. The campaign acknowledges that substance use disorder is often a coping mechanism for stress and unresolved trauma, and encourages mothers to prioritize their mental, emotional and physical health. The campaign relies on a mix of outreach strategies, including partner engagement, community outreach, and traditional and digital media marketing and advertising.

Beyond Outreach: Tough as a Mother’s Integrated Support Services

Going beyond the conventional outreach campaign components, Tough as a Mother offers additional support services that extend beyond merely connecting mothers to our treatment map and the Colorado Crisis Line. We have integrated United Way’s 2-1-1 statewide directory of resources to connect individuals and families to critical resources such as food, shelter, rental assistance, childcare, mental health support, and more.  In essence, we strive to connect real mothers with the real-life resources they need on their journey to recovery.

Furthermore, we have partnered with Bright by Text to deliver developmental milestones content from pregnancy through age 8 to pregnant and parenting mothers who opt to receive texts from this platform. By signing up under “ToughMother,” mothers also gain access to localized recovery resources and support, in addition to parenting tips, activities, and events tailored to their child’s age and their loca

In May of 2023, we launched Tougher Together, a no cost online support group for Colorado pregnant and parenting moms interested in exploring and strengthening their recovery journey. The Tougher Together support group is the campaign’s first foray into direct community services and is hosted by HardBeauty, a Colorado Springs-based nonprofit that provides substance use coaching and therapy for moms and youth with a mission to empower people to rise and thrive beyond their circumstances. The online support group convenes weekly and is led by recovery coaches who are also mothers in recovery. Each weekly session encompasses mindfulness exercises, discussions on challenges and achievements, coaching, and journaling exercises.

Tough as a Mother’s Digital Impact: 3,000 Strong and Growing

While it is inherently challenging to quantify the results of several years of the campaign’s work in reducing stigma and expanding outreach, we are proud to have amassed over 3,000 followers across our social media channels. These platforms provide mothers with access to valuable content and a community for connection. Our commitment to engaging with mothers throughout Colorado persists, as we continually seek to better understand their needs and how the campaign can bolster their recovery journeys.

Tough as a Mother is a collaborative initiative launched and funded by Signal, the Colorado Behavioral Health Administration, and other managed service organizations across the state including Diversus Health and Rocky Mountain Health Plans.