Women's mental health hit hardest two years into pandemic

New study shows how pandemic challenges have taken a toll on Canadians’ mental and physical health

Women's mental health hit hardest two years into pandemic

Weeks of pandemic anxiety, exhaustion, and sadness have stretched into months, and eventually years, of anxiety, weariness, and depression. Many Canadians are looking forward to a less stressful time in their life as they hold out hope that COVID-19 case numbers will continue to decline.

The period from March 2020 has taken a significant toll on Canadians' physical and mental health. The trend affects people of all ages, genders, education levels, and other demographic factors, but has been worse for women than men, according to a recent study released by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute in collaboration with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Findings show that half of Canadians (54%) believe their mental health has gotten worse in the last two years, while one-third say it hasn't changed much (33%) and one-in-eight (12%) say they are mentally better now than they were when the pandemic started.

Mental health is a struggle for many people of all ages and genders, but women between the ages of 18 and 54 are the most likely to claim it has become worse in the recent two years. Three-quarters of women aged 18 to 34 (60%) and 35 to 54 (63%) believe their mental health has gotten “a little” or “a lot” worse since March 2020.

In contrast, just over half of men between the ages of 18 and 54 – including 54% of 18- to 34-year-olds and 55% of 35- to 54-year-olds – said their mental health was “a little” or “a lot” worse. In addition, men over the age of 54 are just as likely to say it hasn't changed (46%) as they are to say it has (46%).

COVID-19 infection has been linked to more serious results in older Canadians, but they are also the most likely to report no emotional consequences. This is something that half of all retirees in Canada agree on.

Three fifths of 18- to 34-year-olds (61%) say their mental health has become worse in the two years since the global pandemic was declared, with three tenths saying it's gotten a lot worse.

The study also found women from 18 to 54 years old continue to have a poorer mental health position than other groups. Half of 18- to 34-year-old women (46%) and 35- to 54-year-old women (42%) say they haven't been doing well or at all in the last few weeks. In comparison, one-quarter of males over 54 say they are unconcerned.

The survey also touched on the impact of the pandemic on Canadians’ physical health.

With gyms and fitness closed due to public health restrictions over the last two years, 53% of Canadians said their physical health has deteriorated since March 2020. That was particularly true among men and women aged 35 to 54 years old (54% and 60%, respectively), and women who were at least 55 years old (55%).