TORONTO, ONTARIO - May 1, 2023 - A recent study by GreenShield, revealed that women believe they should spend one hour a day on their mental health, yet they spend only half that time caring for themselves. In fact, they spend nearly seven times more hours taking care of others and on household chores. The limited time for self-care is heightened among women who identify as part of a marginalized and/or racialized group, who spend 31 per cent less time on self-care activities than their peers.
GreenShield Cares’ women’s mental health program is the only one of its kind, offering national, free, culturally safe therapy and mental health services to Canadians 18+ who identify as women. In response to the study findings, the enhanced program, announced today, now includes two free hours of talk therapy with a licensed mental health professional, a one-year subscription to online cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) guided by a coach, and access to an online wellness hub ensuring women can find the support that’s right for them. While this program supports all Canadian women, it was also designed to offer culturally appropriate support for marginalized and/or racialized women, who are underserved by the current system. Further, recognizing the specialized needs of women in situations of vulnerability, GreenShield Cares is providing five free hours of talk therapy to women with limited access to resources, through community partnerships.
“Despite the best of intentions, when women prioritize everyone above themselves, it can create a negative impact on their health, their family, and their work,” says Harriet Ekperigin, Vice President of Mental Health, GreenShield.
“But, asking women to make this time, is complex and it’s not a one-size fits all solution. We need to provide women with the right tools, that consider their unique needs – especially those from marginalized and/or racialized communities. Having a therapist who shares a similar cultural background can be very helpful for one’s healing journey. Representation at this level will further break down barriers, create access, and provide meaningful solutions.”
Therapists are not one size fits all. The GreenShield Cares program’s personalized counselling matching tool includes over 50 matching options, including culture, race, language, and religion, to ensure women can find a mental health professional who shares and/or can relate to their identity and lived experiences. The program offers virtual access to psychotherapists, Masters of Social Work, psychologists and other professionals whose specialties range from sex therapy, relationship counselling, and trauma, including therapists who specialize in Indigenous mental health services. Intersectionality is at the forefront of the matching process, and the diversity of Canadians is reflected in the diversity of the program’s certified practitioners, with hundreds of the program’s certified practitioners having identified as a person of colour, Indigenous, or Black.
Top findings from GreenShield’s research also indicated that life circumstances dictate women’s mental health experiences, and women from specific groups have unique challenges:
- Women who immigrated to Canada spend 31 per cent less time on self-care activities and 15 per cent less time on their mental health than women who were born in Canada. Additionally, women who are new to Canada believe that the appropriate amount of time to spend on their mental health is 35 per cent less than what women born in Canada believe.
- Mothers spend 44 per cent more time taking care of others and doing household chores and spend 21 per cent less time on their mental health than their peers.
- Single mothers spend 38 per cent less time on self-care activities and 18 per cent less time on their mental health than women overall.
- Women with an annual income lower than $35,000 spend 23 per cent less time on their mental health than women who earn more.
- Women in the LGBTQ2S+ community are more conscious of mental health, spending 11 per cent more time on their mental health than women overall.
- Women in Atlantic Canada reported spending 21 per cent less time on their mental health than women in other regions.
GreenShield Cares about better health for all
As Canada’s only national not-for-profit social enterprise focused on championing better health for all, helping to improve access to healthcare for all is rooted in GreenShield’s DNA. Through GreenShield’s social impact brand GreenShield Cares, the company reinvests its earnings and self-funds the deployment of its wholly owned health services to support underserved and marginalized communities. The organization’s goal is to invest $75 million to improve the lives of at least one million Canadians by 2025. This goal will be achieved through GreenShield Cares initiatives like this women’s mental health program, which in just over a year has already helped nearly 60,000 women access free mental health services.
GreenShield Cares continues to identify opportunities to reduce the mental health treatment gap and build partnerships, like the one it holds with The Canadian Women’s Foundation, to further support racialized and marginalized women.
“GreenShield’s investment in the Canadian Women’s Foundation helps increase access to mental health support and provide the resources survivors of gender-based violence need to rebuild their lives after abuse,” says Paulette Senior, President & CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
“We are thrilled to partner with an organization whose mission is to empower all women in their mental health journey.”
Tips from the experts
Telling women what they ‘should’ be doing can be counterproductive, as it puts pressure on them to do more when they’re already overextended. The GreenShield Cares team of experts offer tools to help women figure out how to prioritize themselves in digestible, customized ways that add value. These tips include:
- Start small: Many women don’t have an extra hour in their day to fill with self-care and mental health. Try carving out 20 minutes and build from there, working up to a one-hour therapy session.
- Know your worth: Women have been conditioned to believe they need to earn love and attention, often through serving others. Using affirmations and meditations to reframe internal dialogue can be a powerful tool in helping women understand they are worthy just as they are.
- Find the right fit: When looking for a therapist, opt for a screening tool like the one from the GreenShield Cares program to ensure your therapist is right for you. This could include race, culture, language, and other intersecting elements of women’s identities, in addition to clinical needs. Talking to someone that understands your diverse background and point of view is key to success.
To learn more about GreenShield Cares or to sign up for the free women’s mental health program services, visit www.greenshield.ca/en-ca/cares/womens-mental-health