Crowds of people line up outside an electronics store in Toronto on Sunday November 22, 2020. New polling from Leger and the Association of Canadian Studies suggests some Canadians feel their mental health has declined as the pandemic has rolled on, with the impacts potentially striking women and visible minorities more than others. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Crowds of people line up outside an electronics store in Toronto on Sunday November 22, 2020. New polling from Leger and the Association of Canadian Studies suggests some Canadians feel their mental health has declined as the pandemic has rolled on, with the impacts potentially striking women and visible minorities more than others. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Pandemic worsening mental health for women more than men, poll suggests

Rates of worsening mental health were also high for single parents in the survey

Aisha Addo was having a talk just the other day with a close friend about how they were faring as the pandemic stretched into 2021.

She said her friend spoke candidly about feeling like she was falling into a state of depression and being unable to pull herself out of it.

“We’re all experiencing the same things — some people more intensely than others,” said Addo, who founded the non-profit Power To Girls Foundation.

New polling from Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests some Canadians feel their mental health has declined as the pandemic has rolled on, with the impacts potentially striking women, single parents, the unemployed, relatively recent immigrants and racialized people more than others.

The survey shows female respondents were more likely than men to report their mental health as bad or very bad across a range of age groups, but especially between the ages of 18 and 34 years old.

Rates of worsening mental health were also high for single parents in the survey, with 40 per cent describing their mental health as bad or very bad.

Tanya Hayles, founder of the global group Black Moms Connection, said many parents are feeling stretched by having to work from home while overseeing virtual learning. She said a further burden for Black parents are issues of systemic racism.

“This pandemic has adversely affected women more than men and it’s women who are leaving the workforce altogether to make sure that their children have what they need,” she said.

“If you’re a single parent, there are no breaks.”

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, said mental health might worsen with new lockdowns and restrictions as people lose the outlet of visiting friends and family. Some respondents in the survey said they did that over the holidays.

“It’s a very significant challenge for governments that are introducing lockdowns and curfews to not see the mental health side of this crisis get exacerbated,” Jedwab said.

READ MORE: Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

The online survey was conducted Jan. 2-3 with 1,523 respondents. It can’t be assigned a margin of error because web panels are not considered random samples of the population.

The results mirror findings from earlier on in the pandemic when women reported feeling more worried than men about COVID-19 as they began taking on added care duties for children and aging parents, and lost their jobs at a faster rate than men, said Andrea Gunraj, vice-president of public engagement at the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

Another factor at play is the increased risk for gender-based violence that predominantly targets women, she said.

“This picture of increased violence, and increased stresses in caregiving and housework, that intersects with the economic stresses that women uniquely have been facing,” Gunraj said.

“It tells a certain picture about women’s mental health right now … and the pandemic being a gender-pandemic at large.”

The polling analysis also looked at results for immigrants and some racialized communities, which came through reviewing six surveys by Leger involving over 9,000 respondents between Oct. 29, 2020, and Jan. 3, 2021. It too cannot be assigned a margin of error as a web-based survey.

The data suggests that 25 per cent of people who have lived in Canada for less than five years reported their mental health was bad or very bad, while 19 per cent of respondents who were born in Canada reported the same.

Nearly 27 per cent of respondents who identified as South Asian reported their mental health being at that level, while 20 per cent of those who identified as Black and about 18 per cent of those who identified as Chinese reported the same.

Even before the pandemic, there was a lack of mental health resources for minority communities, Addo said. Many relied on their community for mental health support, which has disappeared with public health requests to avoid visiting friends and family, she said.

Accessing other resources is also difficult for vulnerable populations, particularly those with children learning remotely and maybe only one computer at home, Addo said.

Addo suggested governments create a mental health fund or program to ensure people who need it have someone to speak with.

“The moment that people are left to their own devices and are left to their own thoughts, it’s easy to fall into depression, it’s easy to become more anxious, and it’s easy to feel more lonely,” she said.

Any mental health services created should be diverse, Hayles said, noting that Black Canadians are often more comfortable expressing their issues to Black therapists.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusmental health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Local health authority maps are updated each week. The brown maps show the number of confirmed and active cases of COVID-19 for the week of Jan. 15 to 21, with the blue map showing cases over the past year. (Image supplied)
COVID-19 outbreak numbers increase at Acropolis and exposures are up in S.D. 52

Business COVID-19 safety plans are law, public needs to follow health protocols - Northern Health

Asher Hauknes shows his strength with Prince Rupert Gymnastics head coach Erin Hipkiss looking on Nov. 13. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Gymnastics Association benefits from Community Gaming Grant

Prince Rupert sports club to receive just less than $90,000 to build new facility

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

The fine for changing lanes or merging over a solid line costs drivers $109 and two penalty points in B.C. (Screenshot via Google Street View)
B.C. drivers caught crossing, merging over solid white lines face hefty fine

Ticket for $109, two penalty points issued under Motor Vehicle Act for crossing solid lines

A registered nurse prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Yukon’s Minister of Community Services, John Streiker, says he’s outraged that a couple from outside the territory travelled to a remote community this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-POOL
Couple charged after travelling to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine

The maximum fine under the emergency measures act is $500, and up to six months in jail

Metis Nation of B.C. President Clara Morin Dal Col poses in this undated handout photo. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Metis Nation of B.C. *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Metis Nation of B.C. suspends president, citing ‘breach’ of policies, procedures

Vice-president Lissa Smith is stepping in to fill the position on an acting basis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Payette shouldn’t get same benefits as other ex-governors general: O’Toole

Former governors general are entitled to a pension and also get a regular income paid to them for the rest of their lives

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Most Read