Canadian working mothers are reporting increased mental-health concerns one year into the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey by The Prosperity Project and CIBC.
The survey found more than half of working mothers felt stressed, while 47 per cent felt anxious and 43 per cent felt depressed. Working mothers worried about their children’s safety and helping them with schoolwork and felt guilty about not spending enough time with them, according to the survey. And during the pandemic’s second wave, women were more likely to consider quitting their job, asking for reduced working hours or taking a position with different working conditions.
“Many working mothers are feeling trapped,” said Pamela Jeffery, the founder of The Prosperity Project, in a statement. “They don’t see a way out, so they often end up having to sacrifice their careers.”
Among women who identified as a visible minority, 41 per cent said they believe women are less likely to be considered for jobs after the pandemic, compared to 29 per cent of white women. Overall, 44 per cent of women said they worry they’ll face an economic recession and lack of job prospects once the pandemic is over. “Childcare will improve women’s employment,” Jeffery said. “It’ll improve their mental health. It’ll improve family flexibility — for women and men. This absolutely needs to happen.”
Lesli Martin, vice-president of Pollara (a partner of The Prosperity Project) noted that the pandemic’s impact on mental health has worsened since a poll last August. “Worse still, many women expect the levels of anxiety, stress and depression to increase if the pandemic were to continue for another three months.”
A separate report from McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org last fall found women who participate in the paid labour market often bear the brunt of doing the majority of the unpaid work at home, such as childcare, laundry and dishes.
Mothers surveyed said they’re more than three times as likely as fathers to be responsible for most of the housework and caregiving during the pandemic. They also said they’re twice as likely as fathers to worry their performance at work was being judged negatively because of their caregiving duties during the pandemic.
“Working mothers have always worked a ‘double shift’ — a full day of work, followed by hours spent caring for children and doing household labour. Now the supports that made this even possible for women, including school and childcare, have been upended.”