It comes as no surprise to many that the mental health of people around the world has been drastically impacted by the last few years. The stress, losses, unemployment, and self-isolation caused by this pandemic have left many struggling to deal with its mental health-related repercussions, with women particularly vulnerable to the effects of these stressors.
Women are also twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than men.
The gender gap in mental health has further been exacerbated due to COVID-19. A recent study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) examined the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of women and people with children, with women experiencing higher levels of anxiety and loneliness than men.
Mothers and women caregivers are greatly affected by the additional toll of the increased childcare and housework demands due to school and daycare closures. Many of these women shoulder the responsibility of unpaid care and family responsibilities while also working in high-risk environments. This has lead to mothers experiencing higher levels of depression at a rate of 45% compared to the general population.
In a survey by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, approximately half of the mothers who participated reported "reaching their breaking point". The survey highlighted the reality of balancing work and family responsibilities, with 28% of mothers stating they are struggling to keep up with work demands and 27% of mothers stating they fear taking time off work because they may lose their job.
“It has been trying. I’m caring for my children and parents while trying to keep myself healthy and well. I also have responsibilities to my employer. It’s been trial by fire. I have had many break downs and cried more in this year than ever ” said one of the survey participants.
It is important to be aware that these struggles are felt most strongly by women of colour. Women in racial minority communities face a higher risk of illness due to living in high-density housing and are more likely to work precarious jobs, putting their mental health at a greater risk.
With these increasing responsibilities, it is becoming harder for women to put their mental health and well-being first. In response to the struggles women are facing, the Canadian Women’s Foundation has launched The Mother Rising campaign, a nationwide movement to raise awareness around the issues that mothers and family caregivers are facing during the pandemic.
What can you do to help the movement?
You can send a letter to your local Member of Parliament to show that you support this call to action that ensures the government is held accountable for its promises regarding the improvement of childcare affordability and accessibility.