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Covid-19 and Mental Health

Engender has been working with Close the Gap, and other women's organisations across the UK, to carry out some polling work to see how Covid has impacted on women's lives. We published the our first findings from this study - focusing on the impact on women with childcare responsibilities - back in March and you can read it here. Our next report looks at the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women's health.

Graphic with a light teal background with darker teal left-aligned quoted text which reads "The bereavement, trauma and isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, combined with the massive increase in unpaid work done by women including home-schooling, stepping in where social care visits were stopped, and emotional support for friends and family, has impacted on all of our mental wellbeing." The quote is attributed to Alys Mumford, Communications and Engagement Manager, Engender. In the top right hand corner of the graphic is the Engender logo, a circle with an equals symbol in the centre, in dark teal.

This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week, in a year which has seen women's mental health be challenged like never before. The bereavement, trauma and isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, combined with the massive increase in unpaid work done by women including home-schooling, stepping in where social care visits were stopped, and emotional support for friends and family, has impacted on all of our mental wellbeing.

As part of our work for a gendered recovery, we carried out a survey on the impacts of COVID-19 developed alongside Close the Gap, the UK Women’s Budget Group, Fawcett Society, Women’s Equality Network Wales, and Northern Ireland Women’s Budget Group. The survey was carried out by Survation between 18-27 February 2021 across the four nations in the UK.

The results of this research relating to mental health are stark, but not surprising, and include the findings:

  • Women, particularly young women, are more likely to be reporting negative mental health impacts as a result of the pandemic;
  • Women, particularly disabled women and young women, are more likely than men to have sought support for their mental health over the course of the pandemic or increased the support they are receiving for their mental health;
  • Women were more likely to report that their experience of key measures of wellbeing, including diet, nutrition and level of exercise, had declined over the course of the crisis;
  • Women are more likely than men to be receiving less support from their employer since the first lockdown.

The surveying also showed that there are high levels of public support for policies that could advance women’s labour market and economic equality, such as those we proposed in our paper on a gendered economic recovery for Scotland.

You can read our briefing setting out the full results of our findings here.

If you want to share your own stories about how the pandemic has impacted on your mental health, you can let us know anonymously here and we also have a survey open for disabled women to tell us if and how their lives have changed due to Covid-19 - you can take the survey here.

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