Sexual harassment, abuse tied to real health effects

UNTV News   •   October 8, 2018   •   4350

A woman holds her head in a file photo. REUTERS/File

(Reuters Health) – Sexual harassment and sexual abuse occur frequently and can harm physical and mental health, according to two studies from the U.S. and Europe published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

In one study, roughly 1 in 5 Pittsburgh-area women said they had been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted. These women were two to three times more likely to have high blood pressure, high triglycerides, poor sleep, depression or anxiety.

In the other study, 70 percent of male and female physicians in Berlin, Germany, said they had experienced sexual harassment or misconduct at work.

“Experiences of sexual harassment and sexual abuse, unfortunately, are not uncommon,” said Rebecca Thurston, director of the women’s behavioral health laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “And these experiences have implications for not only job performance and quality of life, but also for mental and physical health.”

Among the 304 women aged 40 to 60 who participated in Thurston’s study, 19 percent said they had been sexually harassed at work and 23 percent said they had been sexually assaulted.

These percentages are lower than what’s been reported nationally, possibly because some women in the study did not work outside the home, Thurston said. The women were originally recruited for a study of hot flashes and atherosclerosis.

Thurston’s team found that compared to women who had not been sexually harassed, women who had were 2.36 times more likely to have high blood pressure and 89 percent more likely to have poor sleep. In newer findings presented this week at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society in San Diego, Thurston and colleagues reported that the likelihood of having high triglycerides was three times higher in sexually harassed women.

Thurston suspects that being harassed kicks off changes in stress hormone levels, which ultimately impact blood pressure, triglycerides and sleep patterns.

Similar results were seen among women who said they’d been sexually assaulted. They were 2.86 times more likely to have clinical depression, 2.26 times more likely to have clinical anxiety and 2.15 times more likely to have poor sleep.

Dr. Mayumi Okuda, a psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, isn’t surprised by the findings. Research in children “shows that adverse childhood experiences are connected to so many things, such as high blood pressure, cancer, obesity,” said Okuda. “This shows that even adults will experience negative health consequences.”

The German survey of 737 physicians found 62 percent of men and 76 percent of women had experienced some sort of sexual harassment in the workplace. While the idea of men being harassed may be surprising, certain types of conversations can make men very uncomfortable, said senior researcher Dr. Sabine Oertelt-Prigione, a professor and chair of Gender in Primary and Transmural Care at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

For men, “the vulgar talk has to be specifically addressed towards you or an immediate bystander,” Oertelt-Prigione said in an email. “The question in the questionnaire explicitly addressed this directionality. We are not talking about somebody telling a general vulgar joke to a group of colleagues.”

Sexual harassment “is an issue for anyone in the workplace,” Oertelt-Prigione said. It flourishes in workplaces where there is a strong formal hierarchy, “where orders are generally given top-down with little opportunity for participation from employees,” Oertelt-Prigione explained.

Lori Post, who wasn’t involved in either study, suspects that if the questionnaire had been worded differently, Oertelt-Prigione’s study would have found an even higher prevalence of sexual harassment. “I believe the rate is closer to 100 percent,” said Post, who is director of the Buehler Center for Health Policy and Economics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “The difference is in how often and how bad it is.”

Post also believes Thurston’s harassment numbers might have been higher if the Pittsburgh team had not excluded women with heart disease from the study, since heart disease could be correlated with harassment.

The solution to health problems related to harassment and abuse is to prevent these behaviors from happening in the first place, Okuda said. “There has to be a cultural shift away from condoning this kind of behavior.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2xYHM9Q and bit.ly/2y6KQA6 JAMA Internal Medicine, online October 3, 2018.

Nat’l Center for Mental Health opens 24/7 crisis hotline

Marje Pelayo   •   May 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) 24/7 crisis hotline is now open to serve the public in response to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The President asked for such a hotline to ensure that the public is provided with appropriate mental health care amid the coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Anyone who is experiencing anxiety or other mental health issues may seek professional help through hotline numbers 0917-899-USAP (8727) or 8989-USAP (8727).

According to NCMH Chief Dr. Roland Cortez, it is important for a person experiencing anxiety or depression to have someone to talk to or someone to whom he or she can open up. 

Cortez said their experts on mental health are on call to provide the public their much needed assistance. 

Vatican officials to visit Mexico to probe alleged sexual abuse cases involving clergies

UNTV News   •   March 4, 2020

Two Vatican officials charged with investigating accusations of sexual abuse by clergy will visit Mexico for a fact-finding mission later this month, the Church said on Tuesday (March 3).

Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu will meet with church leaders and alleged victims during their week-long visit to the world’s second largest Roman Catholic country, the Mexican bishops’ conference said.

Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola, general secretary of the bishops’ conference, told a news conference in Mexico City that the Church had requested aid from the Vatican in order to help the youngest and most vulnerable in Mexico.

Scicluna and Bertomeu are part of a taskforce created last year by Pope Francis to assist in countries where the Church had no guidance for dealing with sexual abuse cases. The two led the Vatican’s 2018 investigation into sexual abuse in Chile, producing a 2,300-page report that sparked the resignation of several of the country’s top bishops.

Scicluna also conducted the Vatican’s investigation into Father Marcial Maciel, the late founder of Mexico’s Legionaries of Christ Catholic religious order. Maciel was accused of sexually abusing at least 60 boys, some as young as 12.

Allegations of pedophilia have long plagued the Church in Mexico. Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez, President of the Mexican bishops conference, said 271 Mexican priests have been accused of sexual abuse to date.

The bishops’ conference said it does not have an estimate of the number of victims. Advocates say there are many more victims than those who have come forward with accusations. (Reuters Connect)

(Production: Carlos Carrillo, Paul Vieira)

PCG saves man after jumping off a ship in Sibuyan island

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 2, 2019

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) saved a 53-year-old man who jumped off a ship along the coast of Gallo island in Sibuyan on Monday (September 30).

Authorities reported that the man, identified as Carlito Cataylo, might have been suffering from depression.

The sea marshals that were on-duty at that time immediately saved Cataylo after his 60-year-old wife called out for help when he jumped from MV St. Michael de Archangel.

“Base doon sa report na natanggap namin medyo parang agitated siya. Nakainom pero noong tinanong parang may dinadaanan siyang depression, (Based on the report we received, he seemed agitated. He had a drink but when he was interviewed, it seemed like he is going through depression)” according to PCG Spokesperson Capt. Armand Balilo.

Cataylo was immediately given first aid.

Experts say it is not easy for individuals who are suffering from depression. They advise relatives to talk to their loved ones who are suffering from the mental illness. It is also better to consult a specialist.—AAC (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

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