Women, Parents Continue to Bear Emotional Brunt of Pandemic

Women, Parents Continue to Bear Emotional Brunt of Pandemic

56% of women report higher levels of anxiety compared with 43% of men
A woman plays with her child while working from home

The changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have been difficult for many Americans to bear mentally and emotionally, but women and parents may be struggling the most.

Since the coronavirus was officially declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, feelings of anxiety have increased for 1 in 2 Americans, while 32% said they are feeling more sadness, 27% are more fearful and 25% have more anger, according to new research by public relations firm Finn Partners.

While survey respondents don’t see their worries ending anytime soon, many are taking proactive steps in a bid to feel better.

Women experiencing a range of emotions

Research has shown that the pandemic has affected groups differently. Women have had a tough time from the beginning; an earlier survey found women more likely to be struggling with loneliness as a result of social-distancing guidelines put in place due to the pandemic. Remote workers have also experienced some challenges, with some feeling overworked throughout the pandemic.

According to the Finn Partners survey, more than half of women — 56% — report having higher levels of anxiety during the pandemic compared with 43% of men. On top of that, women outscored men in the sadness department (36% to 27%), and 29% of women have experienced more fear during the COVID-19 outbreak compared with 24% of men.

Parents of children under 18 have also been having a tough time, as their relationships outside of the family appear to be suffering. Among parents with children at home:

  • 21% said relationships with friends have worsened
  • 20% said relationships with co-workers have soured
  • 17% said relationships with neighbors have taken a turn for the worse

Worries not expected to abate

Survey respondents anticipated they might continue being on an emotional rollercoaster for the near future. When asked what factors might have an adverse effect on their emotions over the next three months:

  • 18% said concerns about their own health
  • 18% said the government’s response to the pandemic
  • 12% said the ongoing wearing of masks
  • 12% said concerns about job loss
  • 12% said continued social distancing
  • 10% said schools being online in the fall
  • 5% said continued working from home

Respondents 65 and older were most likely to cite health concerns and the government’s response to the pandemic as potentially worrying factors.

On the flip side, younger adults were more likely to have concerns about the state of education in the age of COVID-19. Adults between 18-34 were most likely to cite remote schooling as a concern followed by adults between 35-49.

Taking proactive steps to improve outlook

Despite the challenges consumers are facing, many are being proactive about improving their mental health. Nearly 4 in 10 — 38% — said they are spending more time outdoors with friends and family during the pandemic. Parents with children living at home are most likely to do this, with 50% saying they are spending more time outdoors with loved ones compared with 32% of adults without children living at home.

Some are also spending more time on social media, perhaps to combat feelings of isolation. Among respondents with children living at home, 44% said they feel more connected to their social networks during the pandemic. In comparison, 28% of adults without children living at home are turning to social networks more.

Methodology: Finn Partners commissioned market research firm Civis Analytics to survey 3,552 Americans between Aug. 14-17, 2020.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.