Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Almost 40% of Women with Children Report Anxiety Symptoms During COVID-19 Pandemic; Canadians Living with Young Kids Report Increase in Alcohol, Cannabis Consumption

Ottawa, May 6, 2021 — The COVID-19 pandemic is having a greater impact on mental health and substance use for those living in households with children under 13 years old, especially females. This data comes from the results of a new Leger survey released today by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).

Mental Health and Substance Use During COVID-19: Spotlight on Gender and Household Size found 37% of females and 24% of males living with young kids report moderate to severe anxiety.

Additional key findings from the report include:

  • Females and males with young children have different major factors causing their stress. Females cite financial situation (17%), caring for their own children (14%) and social isolation (10%); while men list their leading causes of stress as social isolation (16%), financial situation (15%) and personal relationships (6%).
  • Only 4% of males declare caring for their own children as a major stressor.
  • 37% of females and 26% of males living with young kids and who use alcohol report increased alcohol use since November 2020.
  • 48% of females and 37% of males living with young kids and who use cannabis report increased cannabis use since November 2020.
  • More females report concerns with mental health and more males report problematic substance use:
    • 29% of females and 20% of males report moderate to severe anxiety symptoms, while 35% of females and 48% of males report excellent or very good mental health.
    • 28% of males and 16% of females report problematic alcohol use; 43% of males and 32% of females report problematic cannabis use.
  • People living alone are more likely to report moderate to severe depression (20% vs 15%), thoughts of suicide (9% vs 6%) and problematic alcohol use (31% vs 22%) compared to the rest of the population

The summary report is the second in a series of surveys on Mental Health and Substance Use During COVID-19. CCSA and MHCC commissioned Leger to conduct the surveys over a twelve-month period to explore the long-term impact of the pandemic on Canadians’ mental health and substance use. The first summary report in the series was released in February 2021.

The purpose of the surveys is to help people in Canada understand the relationship between mental health and substance use during the pandemic and to better support them through these challenging times.

The release of the summary report coincides with World Maternal Mental Health Day (May 5) and Mother’s Day (May 9).

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