The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on our mental health, but men and women have not been affected equally. Women are twice as likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders than men, and new research since the onset of the pandemic has shown Canadian women’s mental health has been more negatively impacted than men’s.

Many women are facing increased pressures and responsibilities. Until recently, treatment options and services offered to women have not considered sex and gender differences, like physiological and cultural differences, that leave many women underserved and overlooked. This has resulted in what experts refer to as a “health gap,” which for women in marginalized and disadvantaged communities is unfortunately even wider.

The Run for Women event, sponsored by the Love You by Shoppers Drug Mart program, is a national event happening virtually this year in support of women’s mental health programs in local communities across the country. The run helps mothers, daughters and friends through programs that support women taking the next step toward recovery.

What many don’t know is the real impact physical activity can have on mental health. Aerobic exercises, like running and walking, are recommended in clinical guidelines and can sometimes be as effective as medication for mild to moderate depression.

Despite the barriers women face when it comes to mental health, the power of community support can make a big difference — even virtually.

“Especially during this time, we know there are many women who are struggling with their mental health,” said Jeff Leger, president of Shoppers Drug Mart. “That’s why we’re proud to continue supporting women’s mental health charities in communities across Canada that provide essential programs and services to help women get the support they need.”

The run offers 5k and 10k races, as well as a 1k little steps run to get kids 12 and under involved. Runs are happening virtually in 18 cities across Canada from July 4 to 11, and $35 from the registration fee will go directly to your local women’s mental health charity.

When we come together, we can help make a difference for the women in our lives and communities.