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Invisible No More

Julia Smith, Rosemary Morgan, BC Women's Health Foundation

Topic areas

Provider perspectivesCOVID-19Gender

Study Design:

This report was produced with findings from virtual focus groups and semi-structured interviews. This was supplemented with information from extensive scoping reviews, long-term care interviews, and data from the BCWHF Unmasking Gender Inequity report.

Study Sample:

This report summarizes the findings from sixteen focus groups of individuals who identify as woman, aged 19 or older, who are currently working in the BC health or social care system (total 66 participants). Focus groups took place between December 2020 and March 2021. This was supplemented with twelve individual semi-structured interviews with healthcare workers and key informant interviews with representatives from sector, unions and professional organizations, supplemented the focus groups.

Research Goals:

This report peels back the compounding layers of inequities impacting healthcare workers before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The onset of the pandemic increased stresses about understaffing, inadequate training, insecure working arrangements, and working multiple jobs to make ends meet through increased risk of exposure, increased workload, and layers of grief, guilt, and isolation. Women described a myriad of consequences of working during the pandemic on their physical and mental health, including insomnia and difficulty sleeping, unhealthy eating habits, increased use of alcohol, antidepressants, and over-the-counter medications. Participants experienced detrimental mental health symptoms because of the challenges of the pandemic both in their personal lives and at the workplace, including reporting stress, anxiety, trauma, guilt and, grief. Participants recommended proactive support for mental health and to prevent burnout, such as having mental health professionals available for debriefing and counseling onsite during crises.

Find more information on the study homepage

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BC Alliance for Monitoring Mental Health Equity respectfully acknowledges that the land on which we work is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations.

BC Alliance for Monitoring Mental Health Equity

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