Mental Wellness and COVID-19:
What’s Gender Got to Do With It?

Join us to discuss how gender relates to unequal mental health outcomes under COVID-19, and how intersectional gender-based policies can prevent and address these inequities.

COVID-19 is taking a toll on everyone’s mental wellbeing, but evidence demonstrates that these threats to mental health are not experienced equally. Gender is one of the many intersecting lenses we can use to look at the pandemic’s unequal impact on mental health.

Women in Canada, and around the world, are reporting higher levels of anxiety, stress and related challenges compared to men. This is not surprising: women are continuing to shoulder the majority of (now increased) unpaid care work in the home; they have been pushed out of the workforce in greater numbers than men; they are more likely to experience domestic violence during lockdowns; and they make up 81% of the health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic response.

While we have data on COVID-19-related mental health differences between men and women, there is very little information on the experiences of transgender and non-binary individuals, who are already more likely to experience barriers to accessing health care and other services. On top of this, the COVID-19 response has resulted in delays in access to gender-affirming surgeries, which have been demonstrated to improve mental wellbeing, and interruptions in hormone therapy, which can negatively impact mental health. Queer people of all genders also face unique mental health challenges and barriers to accessing care that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

While not surprising, gender disparities in mental health are also not inevitable. Join us to discuss how gender relates to unequal mental health outcomes under COVID-19, and how intersectional gender-based policies can prevent and address these inequities. These questions are particularly crucial as high levels of stress and anxiety have long-term secondary health impacts and negatively affect future career advancement and personal development.


Thursday, November 19, 2020

12:00 PM


Online event

A link and password to join the event will be sent to registrants via Eventbrite.


Julia Smith
University Research Associate, SFU Faculty of Health Sciences

Dr. Julia Smith is a University Research Associate in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. She is co-lead on the Gender and COVID-19 Project, which is conducting research on the gender effects of COVID-19 in nine countries with the aim to inform gender transformative policy responses.

Kelley Lee
Tier 1 Canadian Research Chair, SFU Faculty of Health Sciences

Professor Kelley Lee is a Tier 1 Canadian Research Chair in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health Royal College of Physicians and Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. She is a senior advisor on the Gender and COVID-19 Project, with longstanding expertise in global health governance.

Guest speakers

Bina Salimath
Member-at-Large, Vancouver Women's Health Collective

Bina is a woman, a mom and an invested community member. She loves her community and her way of showing care for her community. In the last 8+ years, she has been as a counsellor in the anti-violence sector and a mental health first aid instructor. Since she brings with her the legacy of her own history of being colonized to the colonized lands now called Canada, she uses a decolonial lens in all that she does including her work. She tries to contribute towards making the world safer where and how she can. She acknowledges that she is on the unceded traditional territory of the Coast Salish People of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Alvaro Luna
Mental Health Program Specialist, Health Initiative for Men

Alvaro Luna (he/him/his pronouns) is the Mental Health Program Specialist at Health Initiative for Men (HIM), Vancouver's queer men's health organization. He is a psychotherapist, and has worked within the organization for the last five years in different capacities, supporting queer men in maintaining and strengthening their well-being. In his current role, he coordinates the counselling programs at HIM, including individual and group counselling, and serves as the connection point between the organization and the community in regards to mental health.

Genesa Greening
President & Chief Executive Officer, BC Women's Health Foundation

Genesa Greening is President + CEO of BC Women’s Health Foundation. She is one of the Women’s Executive Network Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada and Business in Vancouver magazine’s 2020 recipient of their Influential Women in Business Award. Genesa has served as a member of the Prime Minister’s Women Deliver National Council and on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Gender and Health at CIHR. She is an award-winning business leader, an unapologetic feminist and a relentless optimist driven to change women’s experiences in the health care sector.

Sekani Dakelth
Volunteer, Catherine White Holman Wellness Centre

Sekani is a member of the Frog clan from the Dakelth nation. She is someone that comes from a long line of Matriarchs that are claiming back their power. She is passionate about women’s rights, Two-spirited rights and how to apply these passions to the health and safety of sex workers and folks that are affected by drug use. She has much experience in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) where her heart is and has been for many years. She considers the DTES a place where she grew up and came to know herself.

Lucas Wilson
Care Team Coordinator, Trans Care BC

Lucas Wilson (he/him/his pronouns) is the Care Team Coordinator at Trans Care BC, a program of the Provincial Health Authority. Lucas has worked in numerous roles directly supporting trans and gender diverse people of all ages, particularly in the context of gender-affirming health care access. In his current role, he coordinates a health navigation team that supports trans and gender diverse people of all ages as well as their care providers, family members and community supports in connecting to care and resources.


Accessibility, Technology & Privacy


Closed captioning will be available for this event.

Registration and password

A password to access this event will be sent to all registrants via email in the days and hours preceeding the event.

Technology requirements

This workshop will be presented in a participatory webinar format. To engage fully you will need:

  • A laptop, computer, or smartphone
  • A webcam
  • A microphone
  • Speakers or headphones

Protecting your privacy

To ensure that we are using online meeting technology in a privacy-conscious way, we are following best practices for this online event series:

  • We will only circulate the meeting link to those who are registered for the event
  • We will password protect the meeting
  • We will enable end-to-end encryption
  • We will not use attention tracking

To protect your own privacy we suggest that:

  • You use a unique email address to log into the webinar. This is so that the webinar platform can’t cross-reference your profile with the rest of your digital profiles under your email address.
  • We suggest you do not use your Facebook profile to log into the webinar. This is so that the webinar platform can’t cross-reference you with your Facebook account.
  • We remind you that whatever you say in the webinar is public and recorded, so please do not share sensitive information about yourself or others, and do not say anything you do not wish to enter the public domain.

To protect the privacy of others we ask that:

  • You do not record or photograph yourself, other participants, or the hosts during the webinar, unless permission is requested and given.