More than a third of women in the UK feel their mental wellbeing has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with guilt over childcare duties, anxiety over absent family members, and financial stress all common experiences, according to new research from Benenden Health.
The research revealed that one in ten women (11%) have experienced new issues with their mental wellbeing, one in eight (13%) have seen underlying issues return and a further 12% said the pandemic has exacerbated current mental wellbeing concerns.
Childcare issues was the most significant contributing factor, with more than half (53%) of women with children aged 0-16 saying that balancing working from home and childcare has impacted their mental wellbeing, with almost three quarters (72%) of 16-24 year-old parents admitting to work and childcare struggles.
With most UK children entering their third month out of school, more than half (52%) of women said worries about their children missing out on their education was having a negative impact on their mental wellbeing, compared to 40% of men.
These concerns led to almost four in ten mums (39%) revealing that they feel they are unable to be a good parent whilst balancing work and caring commitments, with 28% of men feeling the same.
Other factors causing worries for women around childcare during lockdown include not being able to keep their children entertained all day (49%), not being able to perform as well at work (38%) and worrying that their children are not getting enough exercise (34%), all culminating in increased boredom and bickering in households.
Almost half (46%) of women said they had become more stressed in lockdown due to being unable to see family, compared to just a quarter (25%) of men, whilst almost a third (29%) of women said that managing finances was having a negative impact on their mental wellbeing.
As a result of the findings, Benenden Health has developed a dedicated COVID-19 hub, providing online materials and advice for individuals to help them manage their health and wellbeing at this challenging time.
Cheryl Lythgoe, Society Matron at Benenden Health, said: “COVID-19 has understandably had a significant impact on our physical and mental wellbeing, regardless of who we are or how old we are.
“Our findings indicate that women across the UK are struggling with balancing multiple important responsibilities at once, and all under one roof. This, paired with the lasting guilt of ‘not being good enough’, is a detriment to anyone’s mental wellbeing whilst navigating a once-in-a-generation pandemic.
“There are a few important things to keep in mind during this time, the first is that this isn’t the norm and that this will not go on forever. Sometimes positive affirmations and focusing on a definite end to this difficult time will give individuals a boost.
“It is also important to remember professional support is available for everyone. Prioritising time to talk, seek help, and support others can be crucial in getting through these challenging times together and promoting positive mental wellbeing for once we are out the other side.”
Benenden Health has been caring for its community of members every day since 1905, providing access to personal healthcare for just £11.50 per month. The healthcare provider’s dedicated COVID-19 hub also offers advice on how to stay physically and mentally healthy throughout the coronavirus pandemic. For more information, go to https://www.benenden.co.uk/coronavirus/.