COVID-19 harms the mental health of Canadians, especially women

A new poll appears to confirm that a number of Canadians have experienced a decline in their mental health during the pandemic, with women generally having been hit the hardest, as have single parents, the unemployed, recent immigrants and people of color.

The survey, conducted by the firm Léger for the Association for Canadian Studies, specifies that among women who say they are affected, those aged 18 to 34 are more affected than other women. And among lone parents, 40% of respondents reported that their mental health was bad or very bad.

Tanya Hayles, founder of the “Black Moms Connection” association, explains that many parents do not know where to turn, between teleworking and supervising children’s online education. She also recalls that black parents must also face systemic racism.

“This pandemic has affected women more than men, and it is women who are completely leaving the labor market to make sure their children have what they need,” she said. “If you are a“ single parent ”, there is no respite. “

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, believes mental health could worsen with new lockdowns and restrictions as people can no longer see their friends and family. Some survey respondents said they did so during the holidays.

“It is a very important challenge for governments which introduce lockdowns and curfews: not to see that the mental health aspect of this crisis is getting worse,” he said.

The survey was conducted online on January 2-3, with 1,523 respondents. Research and methodological experts believe that it is impossible to assign a margin of error to an online survey, since the sampling method is non-probability.

The women

The survey results reflect what we heard at the start of the pandemic: Women then felt more worried than men about COVID-19, as they began to take on additional childcare duties for children. and aging parents, and were losing their jobs faster than men, said Andrea Gunraj, vice-president at the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

Another factor at play is the increased risk of gender-based violence, which primarily targets women, she said. “This image of increased violence and increased stress in care and housework, which intersects with the economic stresses that only women have faced,” Ms. Gunraj said.

“It gives a certain portrait of women’s mental health at the moment and the portrait of a pandemic that affects one gender more than another. “

Cultural communities

The survey analysis also looked at results for immigrants and some racialized communities, which emerged from a review of six Leger surveys involving more than 9,000 respondents between October 29, 2020 and January 3, 2021. We cannot no longer assign a margin of error on these online surveys.

Data suggests that 25% of people who have lived in Canada for less than five years said their mental health was bad or very bad, compared to 19% of respondents born in Canada.

Almost 27% of those surveyed who identified as South Asian said their mental health was bad or very bad, while 20% of those who identified as black and around 18% of those who identified as black. Chinese have said the same.

But even before the pandemic, there was a dearth of mental health resources for minority communities, said Aisha Addo of the Power To Girls Foundation. Many relied on their community for mental health support, but those contacts disappeared because of sanitation measures, she explains.

Accessing other resources is also difficult for vulnerable populations, especially those whose children learn remotely with perhaps a single computer at home, said Addo.

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