The mental health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic are staggering; public health countermeasures have caused secondary impacts including isolation, job losses, increased caregiving responsibilities and increased risk of exposure to the virus through work in essential industries. Women are shouldering many of these burdens, and their mental health is suffering.
The Spotlight on Women’s Mental Health is the BC Women’s Health Foundation’s second piece in their new series, Unmasking Gender Inequity, examining the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s health.
MENTAL HEALTH STATS FOR WOMEN – BEFORE THE PANDEMIC
- Women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety than men.
- It’s estimated that one in five women in Canada are living with mental health issues that meet diagnostic criteria and by age 40 one in two will have or have had a mental health disorder.
LISTENING TO THE WOMEN OF BC – MENTAL HEALTH FINDINGS SINCE THE PANDEMIC
- Women’s mental health has been heavily impacted by the pandemic: 63% of younger women (aged 35 and under) and 37% of women aged over 35 reported feeling worry, anxiety or stress.
- Indigenous women and those from a minority community are more inclined to rate their emotional health poorly (27 per cent and 35 per cent more likely respectively) since the beginning of the pandemic.
- Concerns regarding finances and job security has resulted in nearly half (44 per cent) of women stating their health has been affected in some way
6 MENTAL HEALTH INITIATIVES TO SUPPORT TODAY
- Reproductive Mental Health Campaign – Ensuring women’s reproductive mental health needs are met through research and accessible programming.
- WHRI’s RESPPONSE study – Exploring the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, one study aim is to understand how public health measures have affected mental health in BC, through a sex and gender lens.
- Women Experiencing Violence Fund – Our collaborative fund with the Ending Violence Association of BC to deliver life-saving resources to women as part of a COVID-19 provincial gender-based violence response.
- Perinatal Anxiety Lab – Supporting the work of Dr. Nichole Fairbrother and her team to build knowledge in the area of perinatal anxiety disorder education, screening, assessment, and treatment.
- Emergency Support Fund – Providing women and families across at BC Women’s Hospital with financial support during their time of need.
- Families in Recovery (FIR) Patient Engagement Fund – Supporting women recovering from substance use with their babies through engaging programming like yoga, art therapy, celebration events, and parenting classes.
HOW OUR DONORS HAVE SUPPORTED MENTAL HEALTH RESEARCH + INNOVATION
- Major Depressive Disorder – This fellowship award is supporting Dr. Katarina Rnic, a registered Clinical Psychologist who is determined to bring a new understanding of why women are more prone to depression than men.
- SUPPORT online tool – A new online tool designed to support women living with postpartum depression through culturally-safe resources and interventions.
- Chronic Stress – This donor-funded Catalyst Grant directly is supporting Travis Hodges’ research on how chronic unpredictable stress impacts brain health, informing future treatments for young women at risk for major depressive disorder.
- Perinatal anxiety – This donor-funded Catalyst grant is directly supporting Dr. Nichole Fairbrother’s research on how personalized perinatal anxiety screening impacts mental health outcomes and treatment-seeking behaviours.
- “Momnesia” – This donor-funded Catalyst grant directly supported Dr. Cindy Barha’s investigation into reduced memory for women who are pregnant.
OTHER WAYS TO SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH:
- Donate – explore our list of active funding initiatives to find the topic that resonates with you. Whether you donate to research or programming, you are helping shape the future of mental healthcare for women in BC.
- Advocate – Consider ways you can lift up those around you, practise non-judgemental support, consider sharing your personal story to contribute to destigmatizing mental health.
- Educate – visit umaskgenderequity.ca to learn about more impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s health.
BC Women’s Health Foundation is BC’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the full spectrum of women’s health. The information shared is intended to educate, inform, and point readers to credible sources. It is not intended to substitute professional medical advice.
If you are struggling with your mental health, or concerned about someone else, call the BC Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789 (do not add 604, 778 or 250 before the number). It’s free and available 24 hours a day. If you prefer to access help and support via email, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.