Women have taken on a greater share of additional care responsibilities for children, other family members and at-risk community members during self-isolation. It has been observed that women are carrying a ‘triple load’ during the crisis, which includes paid work, care work, and the mental labour of worrying. Other forms of inequality and discrimination – in particular, racism, ageism and economic inequality – are compounding these mental health impacts for women. The frequency and severity of intimate partner violence also increase during and after emergencies, with confinement to the home creating additional risks.
All these factors lead to emotional, social and financial stress and anxiety, and can exacerbate existing mental health conditions, trigger new or recurring conditions, and impede recovery. At the same time, limited availability of gender-specific or gender-responsive services means women may not be able to access the support they need.
In partnership with all 11 women’s health services, GEN VIC has led a research project that interviewed over 115 women and gender diverse people across every region of Victoria to ask them about their experiences of COVID-19 and the impact this has had on their mental health and wellbeing. This consisted of 15 focus groups and 1 survey with women and gender diverse people.
This conversation is not over, highlights the mental health consequences of COVID-19 on women, with quotations taken straight from participants. The report makes a series of recommendations for reform.