Working women stressed, depressed

By: Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
“Anxious, stressed and depressed.”
Those are just some of the words Canada’s working women are using to describe their deteriorating mental health, as COVID-19 continues to persist.
A new cross-country tracking poll by the Prosperity Project and CIBC found women are much more likely than men to feel the mental toll of the pandemic’s second wave compared to the first, while also bearing the brunt of their household finances and worrying about repaying debts.
These feelings are even higher among working mothers, who reported experiencing higher levels of stress (at 52 per cent), anxiety (47 per cent) and depression (43 per cent), compared to working women without children (at 36, 38 and 29 per cent, respectively). In working fathers, stress levels were at 37 per cent, anxiety at 40 per cent and depression at 27 per cent.
On top of worries about helping with schoolwork and their children’s safety, mothers are more likely to feel guilty about not spending time with their children. And that’s been causing more of them to turn down jobs or promotions, suggests polling.
During the second wave, more women were likely to consider quitting their job, ask for reduced working hours or take a position with different working conditions, data show.
Pamela Jeffery, who founded the non-profit Prosperity Project to ensure Canadian women are not left behind in the COVID-19 recovery period, said the pandemic has caused fear and has affected families.
“It has also created a worrisome third F- word: frozen,” she said in a statement. “Many working mothers are feeling trapped. They don’t see a way out, so they often end up having to sacrifice their careers.”
Around half of all respondents who are women also believe they will face an economic recession and lack of job prospects once the pandemic is over. That’s more common in women from visible minorities (at 41 per cent) than women who are white (29 per cent). Four in 10 respondents among both women and men said they’ve had to use their savings during the pandemic to make ends meet.
Jeffery believes renewed efforts for better childcare will help mitigate an abundance of these concerns.
“Child care will improve women’s employment. It will improve their mental health. It will improve family flexibility — for women and men,” she said, imploring the federal government to implement a long-promised national childcare program. “This absolutely needs to happen.”