Evidence is only just starting to emerge regarding the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on wellbeing. Working from home for months on end, a lack of in-person interaction and concerns about job security have left many people’s mental health at a low point. Not only have working parents faced these challenges, but they’ve had the addition of caring for their children. This has often resulted in a lack of self-care and depleted mental wellbeing.
The effect of Covid-19 on mental health
One of the groups most affected by the pandemic has been working parents, especially those from single adult and low-income families who were already suffering from compromised wellbeing. A busy workday can get the best of us, throwing school closures and caring for a toddler into the mix and these tiresome days feel like a mountain to climb.
For real improvements to parental mental health and wellbeing, businesses should be transparent about the benefits on offer, alongside improving the specialist parental support available. People don’t deserve to feel like they are looked down upon by managers because they are parents, they deserve empathy and real action to support them. Let’s use the lessons learnt from the pandemic to inform how we approach mental health for working parents.
The impact of Covid-19 on childcare and how parenting needs have changed
A recent study from Oxford University has found that parental stress, depression and anxiety have increased since the beginning of the pandemic. This has been exacerbated by the lack of access to flexible and affordable childcare, as many employees have struggled in their ability to manage their workload and parenting duties.
Ensure you are highlighting and providing childcare benefits to all employees, not just women, since every parent deserves to be supported. Childcare support can provide a particularly significant boost to women however since working mothers have been majorly affected by this pandemic.
35% of working mothers in the United Kingdom have lost work or hours due to a lack of childcare support during this past year. They are also 1.5 times more likely than fathers to have either lost their job or quit since the start of the first lockdown in March 2020. Offering all employees childcare support helps everyone out, both in the short and long term, and results in happier and healthier families, letting parents bring their best self to work.
How employers can help and how to seek change as a working parent
The pandemic has accelerated workplace trends, such as remote working, with 9 out of 10 employees wanting to maintain flexible working post-COVID and especially true of parents. As a business, don’t give up on this style of working with lockdown easing. Continuing to offer remote and flexible work to working parents, as it allows employees to complete work well while easing the pressure of child care responsibilities.
For parents it’s important to communicate with your manager so they are aware of your needs, otherwise, it’s hard for them to be met. Assess what would make things easier for you. Do you need more flexibility in your working hours? Or maybe you are unable to turn around last-minute assignments, so need to establish a minimum lead time.
Painting a picture to your manager of your current work-life will help them understand the challenges you are facing and is likely to lead to more empathy from them and thus more accommodation.
Final thoughts from Kami
Being specific in your needs is hugely important. Employers are managing hundreds of different employees and trying to support their requirements, so clearly outlining what would help you specifically is likely to have the most beneficial outcome for everyone. Whatever your requirements are, it’s important to make your employer aware of them and any good business should help to implement a framework that supports them and encourages a healthier work-life balance.