By Miranda Massie on July 16, 2019
Check out the links below to see what we’ve been reading and listening to lately.
Walk-in Wellbeing Clinic Permanently Open for Business – UBC Okanagan News (May 29, 2019). Pair this great news with our Thriving Faculty profile of Lesley Lutes (February 2019).
Changing My Mind: Margaret Trudeau Speaks on Mental Health – alumni UBC Podcasts (June 5, 2019)
Alumni Spotlight: Michael Dumont, Indigenous Primary Care – Faculty of Medicine (Spring 2019)
A Place You Can Go: Small Steps for Big Changes – UBC Okanagan In The Field (from Diabetes Research Day, 2019)
UBC Goes All in for Sustainable Seafood – UBC News (June 7, 2019)
Looking for additional summer reads? Check out UC Berkeley’s list of titles from the Greater Good Science Center that explore themes like happiness, burnout, emotional intelligence and communication.
Photo credits: Lesley Lutes, UBC Faculty of Education, UBC Faculty of Medicine, UBC Health, Wellbeing and Benefits, UBC Brand and Marketing.
By Miranda Massie on June 4, 2019
I recently attended a national conference on mental health in the workplace. The first keynote speaker stood up and began his presentation with a question: “If we don’t have mental health at work, what do we have?” He was emphasising how common professional and workplace goals (including productivity, success, achievement and growth) depend on our capacity to foster and maintain our mental health. In other words, we have to be well to work well.
Wellbeing is a complex interaction of the biological, psychological and social aspects of our lives. It is the ability to understand the role that each of these aspects plays in supporting us to reach our full potential. Mental health is the capacity to feel, think and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. In UBC’s Wellbeing Strategic Framework, mental health and resilience is a priority area because it recognizes how important effective coping strategies are to our mental health and our abilities to live, learn, work and support one another.
What I have just described is a concept called “mental health literacy”. This type of health literacy goes beyond awareness and understanding, emphasizing the actions we can take to care for our mental health. Specifically, it involves:
- Understanding how to obtain and maintain positive mental health
- Understanding mental disorders and their treatments
- Decreasing stigma related to mental disorders
- Understanding how to seek help effectively
All of these components help us manage our relationships, problem solve effectively, feel positive about our lives and selves, and achieve our goals.
Fast facts to boost your mental health literacy:
Not all stress is bad
Stress is a normal part of the human experience; it allows us to learn, grow and develop. Recognizing when stress has become chronic or harmful can help us minimize the potential negative impacts on our wellbeing . Whether we view stressors as positive or negative can also affect how they impact our lives . The following resources provide additional information about stress, its impacts and ways to manage it.
- How to Make Stress Your Friend (Ted Talk)
- Toxic stress and early human development (Harvard University)
- Advice for managing effects of stress from UBC’s Dr. Eli Puterman
Mental health is not the same as mental illness
Being mentally well is different from having a diagnosed mental illness . People living with mental illness can achieve high levels of mental health. Conversely, just because someone doesn’t have a mental illness does not mean that they are feeling or coping well.
Language is important
Words are powerful, and our choice of words and phrases can inadvertently feed into negative attitudes and behaviour surrounding mental illness. By increasing our literacy and shifting our language to be more accurate and empathetic, we can positively impact those experiencing mental illness.
Asking for or offering help is good for us
Reaching out to others for support or connection is a sign that our body’s stress response is functioning effectively . Helping others buffers the negative impacts of stress and improves our overall resilience . Assess your mental health from time to time and ask for help if you need it. Learn to recognize when someone else may have declining mental health and help them find resources for support. UBC HR provides the following support services for faculty and staff:
- Online mental health assessment tools
- How to help colleagues in distress
- Counselling services through UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (available to all UBC employees and their eligible dependents)
- Clinical mental health services (including extended health provisions)
We all have a role to play in creating safe, supported and educated communities at UBC. This month, I encourage you to increase you mental health literacy through one of the resources mentioned above or by trying something new for your mental health.
All my best,
 Public Health Agency of Canada, 2014
 Kutcher et al., 2016, p.155; Whitley, Smith, & Vaillancourt, 2012; Whitley & Gooderham, 2016
 The Working Mind Training, Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2018
 Abiola Keller et al., “Does the perception that stress affects health matter? The association with health and mortality”, Health Psychology, September 2012
 Corey L. M. Keyes. (2002). The Mental Health Continuum: From Languishing to Flourishing in Life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43(2), 207-222. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3090197
 Heinrichs, M., Baumgartner, T., Kirschbaum, C., & Ehlert, U. (2003). Social support and oxytocin interact to suppress cortisol and subjective responses to psychosocial stress. Biological Psychiatry, 54(12), 1389-1398. doi:10.1016/S0006-3223(03)00465-7
 Michael J. Poulin et al., “Giving to others and the association between stress and mortality”, American Journal of Public Health, September 2013
Photo credit: UBC Human Resources
By Miranda Massie on July 1, 2017
This Month’s Feature
July 20: Fourth Annual UBC Chef Challenge: Summer Suds n’ Grub (5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.)
Chef Challenge is back! See what the chefs from your favourite campus food outlets are cooking up this year. There are five competing chefs, including a special faculty/student team, who will prepare the tastiest bites perfectly paired with local craft beer. Enjoy three live bands, lawn games and plenty of fun in the summer sun. Staff and faculty tickets are only $25 each, so grab yours now before they sell out!
Other Events and Activities
June 29: Rehearsing Conflict Performance (11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.)
Performed by UBC employees, this presentation draws on real-life experiences to inspire insight, explore conflict and create change. Watch how forum theatre is used to explore conflict at work and gain new insights into yourself and others that can shift how you engage in conflict. RSVP here.
July 1 – August 30: Aboriginal (Un)History Month Exhibit
The fifth annual Aboriginal (Un)History Month exhibit is now on display at UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. This exhibit asks the question, “Whose 150?” and explores the rich Indigenous history and culture in Canada.
July 5 – August 13: Free Yoga on the Mall (12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.)
Grab your mat and take a break! Every Wednesday, attend a free flow yoga class that will reset your day. Find your breath, open your hips and improve your core strength. Each practice will be tailored for all levels and ages, and beginners are most welcome.
July 12: Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mental Health Lecture (5:00 p.m.)
Individuals with autism often struggle with managing anxiety, anger or depression, and increasingly, interventions are being used to help address these difficulties. Treatments are best provided within a context of supporting families and healthy environments. This public lecture will review the evidence for individual, family and community supports and is suitable for parents, professionals and students. Part of the UBC Faculty of Education’s Summer Noted Scholar Series, this event takes place in Richmond, BC at the Pacific Autism Family Centre.
July 18 & 19: Understanding Your Staff Pension Plan
Join this informative workshop session designed for both potential and current members of the UBC Staff Pension Plan. If you are already a Plan member, regardless of age, this workshop will help you learn more about the Plan, pensions in general, and related retirement considerations. If you are not yet a member, receive enrolment information and an opportunity to have all of your pension-related questions answered.
An internationally recognized expert in the area of sport for development, John Lambert from the University of Brighton, UK will deliver two presentations as part of UBC’s School of Kinesiology Distinguished Speaker Series: “Football for Peace: a values-based approach to coaching sport in a divided society” and “Identifying and developing elite athletes”.
July 26, 27, 28: UBC Blueberry Fest (9:00am-1:00pm)
Don’t miss the annual UBC Blueberry Fest at the UBC Bookstore Plaza featuring BC blueberries, pancake breakfasts, Ethical Bean Coffee and chef demos (each day at 12pm). Visit food.ubc.ca for more info.
By Melissa Lafrance on May 4, 2017
Fake news is getting a lot of attention lately. And fake news, especially when it comes to health, can be extremely damaging as people may suffer or be harmed as a result of misleading or incorrect information. Social media makes it extremely easy to spread this misinformation, making a bad situation even worse. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen misleading health information shared on social media.
You often don’t even need to open an article or site to know that the information is not legit. But sometimes it’s easy to be fooled. Read on to learn how to spot misleading health information and improve your personal health literacy.
How to spot fake health claims
1. Beware of catchy clickbait titles and images
Read past the headline or title! And be cautious of articles that use photos unconnected to the story. For example, if you do a reverse search of the image using Google (right-click on the image and choose to search Google) and find that the image appears on a lot of stories about many different topics, there’s a higher chance that it’s not actually an image taken of the story itself.
2. Pay attention to the domain and URL
Established organizations usually own their own domains and have a standard look you are probably familiar with. Sites with endings such as “.com.co” should make you think twice.
3. Be critical and ask questions
If it’s described as “the secret even doctors won’t tell you,” be wary. A lot of health information is confusing and many conflicting claims may be circulating. Learn questions to evaluate the reliability of online information.
Being curious leads us to explore, investigate and learn. Curiosity gives us the drive and motivation to acquire valuable health information by questioning expert sources and unravelling new subject areas. Find the things that motivate you to continue, and ask for clarification if something doesn’t make sense.
4. Check the publishing date, credentials and references
You want the most current information (ideally less than three years old). The article should be written by a health professional and the author’s credentials should be listed. Check to see if the website references research articles or organizations to back up its health information. The bigger the claim, the more evidence you need to see that it’s true. You can also read the “About Us” section to find out more about the organization.
5. Do the research
When something piques your interest, research it! While it may seem difficult to sift through the wealth of information available at our fingertips, I highly encourage you to explore reliable websites. Some credible sources include not-for-profit organizations, government health agencies, and educational institutions. Here are some to use as a starting place:
- UBC Human Resources – Staff & Faculty Health
- Workhealthlife by Shepell
- Health Canada
- Government of Canada – Healthy Canadians
- Heart and Stroke Foundation
- Canadian Mental Health Association
- Dietitians of Canada
6. Beware of confirmation bias
We are often drawn to things that reinforce the way we see the world, how we feel about certain issues and our personal connections to certain health issues. These misleading articles or stories are designed to stir up emotion in readers.
7. Trust your instincts
Ask yourself if the finding is really plausible. If the claim seems too good to be true, is very drastic in the way it’s portrayed or written, or makes unsupported causation conclusions, then it’s likely over-exaggerated.
8. Think before you share!
If you can’t be sure that the information is true, evidence-based and free of unsupported claims, think twice before sharing a link or sending it on to others – which could have unintended consequences.
What exactly is health literacy and why is it important?
The Public Health Agency of Canada defines health literacy as “the ability to access, comprehend, evaluate and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain and improve health in a variety of settings across the life-course.”
To put it more simply, health literacy means being able to obtain and understand information relating to our health. We need to be critical when looking at health claims and advertising presented to us. Some health claims are based on research and evidence, while other claims are inaccurate and unsupported (and, in some cases, can be dangerous).
Studies show that people with higher health literacy are healthier. When you are able to understand and use health information, you have the important elements in place to build a healthy lifestyle (including taking preventive measures to avoid illness and knowing how and when to seek medical care).
By Melissa Lafrance on March 2, 2017
We’ve all read the articles or heard from a friend about the transformational powers of choosing certain foods over others. With all the hype, it can be hard to determine what’s true and what’s not.
This article, written in honour of Nutrition Month, takes a critical look at seven popular myths. Read on for the real facts on everything from whether you should avoid fats entirely to whether white sugar really is worse than alternative sweeteners.
Disclaimer – The information in this feature is meant to encourage you to think critically about the information we are bombarded with. It is not meant to cause worry or make you revamp your diet. At the end of the day, we all need to make the food choices that make the most sense to us at the time.
Food for thought: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. – Michael Pollan
Myth 1: Avoid all fats for overall health.
Fat, often villainized, is a necessary macronutrient that each of us needs to consume. It’s true that not all fats are equal and that some are important for overall health while others should be limited.
There are four different types of fats: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated and trans fats.
Unsaturated fats (both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) are liquid at room temperature and are considered “healthy” fats because they improve blood cholesterol levels, offer cardiovascular health benefits and play other positive roles. They are mainly found in foods from plants, such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. Foods with high concentrations of monounsaturated fats include olive, peanut, and canola oils; avocados; nuts like almonds, hazelnuts and pecans; and seeds (such as pumpkin and sesame). Foods with high concentrations of polyunsaturated fats include sunflower, corn, soybean, canola and flaxseed oils; walnuts; flax seeds; and fish.
Saturated fat is mainly found in foods from animals (such as fatty cuts of meat and poultry) and full-fat dairy products. However, a few plant foods are also high in saturated fats, such as coconut, coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.
Trans fats are made from liquid oil that is transformed into a solid fat, adding texture and flavour to food. They are found in commercially baked goods, fried foods and processed foods. Some meats, milk and butter naturally contain small amounts of trans fat.
To lower your risk of heart disease, it is best to limit saturated fats and aim to have no manufactured trans fats in your diet.
Myth 2: It’s impossible to make sense of the nutrition facts table on packaged foods.
Actually, it is possible to make an informed decision on the foods you should limit, based on the nutrition facts table included on all packaged foot. Don’t let the nutrition claims on the front of packages sway your decision: head to the back of the package and get the facts.
Start by finding out the serving size right under the header “Nutrition Facts”. For a quick check, use the % Daily Value on the right side to determine if there is a little or a lot of a particular nutrient. If it says “5% Daily Value” or less, that’s considered a little, and 15% or higher is a lot.
You may want to look for low amounts of nutrients like saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and sugar. You may want a lot of fibre, vitamin A, calcium and iron. To take it one step further, look at the weight of each nutrient and make an informed decision based on your preference, nutritional status and health goals.
Myth 3: You need to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store to get healthy foods and avoid the not-so-healthy options in the middle aisles.
While each grocery store is designed differently, in general, most of the fresh items that are minimally processed (like produce and meat) are placed on the perimeter of the store. But you’ll also find many highly processed and less nutritional foods, such as those in the bakery and deli meat sections.
Don’t ignore the inner aisles, as that’s where you’ll often find dried items (nuts, seeds, legumes), grains (rice, barley, farro, quinoa), oils, vinegars, and frozen fruits and vegetables. Avoiding these sections may limit your purchase of healthy items.
Did you ever notice that the common food staples like produce, meat, dairy and bread are at completely opposite ends of the store? Store designers do this on purpose to make us spend more time in the grocery store and perhaps add a few more unplanned items to our shopping baskets. Developing a meal plan ahead of time and preparing a grocery list can help you limit your purchases to what you actually need.
Myth 4: Alternative or other forms of sugar are better for you than refined white sugar.
Nutritionally speaking, all sugars are pretty much the same. While some people consider brown sugar, honey or agave syrup to be more natural, they are still sugars. All are concentrated sources of calories with very few other nutrients. Your body can’t tell the difference between white sugar and any other type of sugar.
In fact, your body handles naturally occurring sugar in food or processed sugars and syrups in the same way. If you are looking for the least-processed options, then yes, stick to small amounts of honey and maple syrup.
Myth 5: Organic foods are better than non-organic foods.
Bottom line: there is not enough scientific evidence to conclude that organic food is more nutritious than non-organic food. Regardless of being organic or non-organic, foods usually have a similar amount of nutrients. Some studies have found slight differences in nutrient content, although the results have not been significant. The factors that do affect the nutritional content of food are soil quality, growing conditions, harvesting methods and timing, and the species of the animal and what it ate.
The real difference between organic and non-organic foods is in the farming practices. Organic foods are grown under strict regulations and requirements laid out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Organic foods must be produced without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified organisms. Organic farmers also use crop rotation, plant compost and composted manure to enrich the soil. Animals raised organically are fed only organic feed that is free of antibiotics, growth hormones and insecticides.
In Canada, both organic and non-organic foods follow strict guidelines and are safe to eat. As with any purchase, it’s a personal choice and often comes down to financial realities.
Myth 6: Sea salt is better than table salt.
Sea salt, just like kosher and gourmet salt, has about the same amount of sodium as table salt. One is not necessarily healthier than the other, and too much sodium can be harmful to your health. The differences between sea salt and table salt are taste, texture and processing.
Table salt is mined from dried-up ancient salt lakes. Some table salts include iodine, a nutrient that helps prevent thyroid disease. Sea salt is made by evaporating seawater and usually involves less processing. Depending on the water source and the trace minerals, different sea salts can have varying flavours and colours.
Myth 7: A raw food diet provides enzymes that are essential to healthy digestion.
The major claim made to promote the raw food diet is that heating food destroys its nutrients and natural enzymes and that enzymes are needed to boost digestion and fight chronic disease.
It is true that cooking inactivates plant enzymes since they are proteins and proteins denature with heat. However, the acids in our stomachs denature those proteins, even when eaten raw. A completely raw food diet is often difficult to follow and can lead to inadequate intake of many essential nutrients, such as protein, iron, calcium and vitamin B12.
Uncooked and unpasteurized foods have been linked to foodborne illness and when foods are cooked, this risk is significantly decreased. Cooking also allows for the transformation of foods and is often needed to allow for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
If you have questions or concerns about your diet, consider getting nutritional support – see the March 2017 article in the Healthy UBC Newsletter for information on using UBC’s Extended Health Benefits and EFAP services.
By Melissa Lafrance on September 13, 2016
UBC’s Health, Wellbeing and Benefits team has a great line up of free activities and events coming your way this September. Sign up today for programs including CAMMPUS Info Session, Stress Release Series, QPR Suicide Prevention Training, 50/50 Yoga Pilates and more!
CAMMPUS Info Session – September 15, 2016 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Want to take control of your heart health? Attend an information session or view this video clip of a typical first assessment! Attend the info session to learn about participating in a unique project called CAMMPUS (Cardiovascular Assessment and Medication Management by Pharmacists at the UBC Site).
CAMMPUS offers UBC faculty and staff a free 30-minute assessment with a registered pharmacist (or student under pharmacist supervision) from the UBC Pharmacists Clinic. During the assessment, you will find out your current level of heart health and what steps you can take to keep your cardiovascular system healthy. For more information and to register, click here.
Stress Release Three-part Series
Part 1: The Day-to-Day – September 21, 2016 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Stress is a loaded word, and decreasing it can feel like an unsurmountable task. Define “stress” and learn about your body’s natural & healthy response to stressors. Participants will leave with three simple and attainable suggestions for how to clear out unnecessary stressors, and shift the nervous system’s response to the inevitable stressors. For more information and to register, click here.
Part 2: Diet & Stress – September 27, 2016 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Learn how your diet and dietary habits affect your reaction to stressors, and how stress affects your food cravings. You will define three simple diet shifts that can assist you in stress management. For more information and to register, click here.
Part 3: Stress Relief Techniques – October 5, 2016 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
The way we handle our stress depends on the stressor, the person and the situation,. Learn how to identify healthy and not-so-healthy ways to manage stressors as they arise, and leave with three simple at home lifestyle and workstyle changes that can help you streamline your stressors. For more information and to register, click here.
QPR Suicide Prevention Training – September 22, 2016 @ 10am-12pm (Location: Point Grey)
QPR Training is an internationally recognized suicide prevention program designed to help you question, persuade, and refer. QPR acts as an emergency mental health intervention designed to save lives much like CPR or other methods of emergency medical intervention.
Learn to recognize suicide warning signs, approach someone who may be at risk, persuade the person to seek appropriate health services, and connect the person to resources that will help resolve crises. Suicide is preventable. For more information and to register, click here.
50/50 Yoga Pilates Class – September 28, 2016 @ 11-12pm (Location: Point Grey)
All UBC staff & faculty are welcome to register and attend this free 50/50 Yoga Pilates class!
50/50 Yoga Pilates presents a cutting-edge Pilates workout that is designed to sculpt the body and strengthen the core. A 50/50 Yoga Pilates class consists of 50% standing Pilates work, which integrates Pilates principles into lower-body work, and 50% yoga mat work to strengthen the core with complementary exercises. Discover the unique combination of Pilates and yoga sequences to help sculpt, strengthen and stretch the body. For more information and to register, click here.
Ergo Your Office Tutorial – September 28, 2016 @ 12-1pm (Location: Point Grey)
Optimize your computer work environment to improve comfort and reduce the risk of injury. This one-hour tutorial combines a presentation and a practical session, giving you hands-on experience adjusting typical office equipment. By the end of the tutorial you will know how to set up your chair, keyboard/mouse, and monitor to promote neutral working postures. For more information and to register, click here.
Coming up later this Fall…
Posted in Events, Healthy UBC Initiatives | Tagged courses, Ergonomics, health and wellbeing, information, pilates, professional development, Stress, Suicide prevention, training, workshops, Yoga | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on May 3, 2016
That being said, I always think it’s a great time to talk about sex, but perhaps that has a lot to do with my background as a community sexual health educator. The reality is that talking openly and honestly about sex and sexuality is hard to do and it can make us uncomfortable. This discomfort has historically led to generations of misinformation, shame and silence.
Everyone, of any age, deserves the right to access accurate and unbiased sexual health information in order to make informed decision about their health. The challenge is often knowing where to find it.
Our newsletter theme this month is health literacy and if there is one area that I think we could all benefit from more well-sourced information, it is sexual health.
A crash course in sexual health information:
Beware of search engines
My advice when it comes to sexual health and Google: just don’t. There is a lot of bad information on the internet, and pulling up a google search makes it difficult to decipher where the information is coming from and what potential biases or ulterior motives might be at play. Learn more about The Dangers of Dr. Google here.
My top 5
A list of the best sites for unbiased and non-judgmental sexual health information are as follow:
- Sexuality and U: Rated one of the top 10 health websites in Canada.
- Options for Sexual Health: Similar to Planned Parenthood, with services available for free to all residents of BC
- Scarleteen: Don’t be fooled by the teen/20’s label: This site has accessible information and advice for all ages.
- Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights: Like the World Health Organization, but for sexual health in Canada. Policy, research, advocacy and information.
- Sex is good for your health: Last year in my S is for SEX article, I outlined the physical, psychological and emotional benefits of being sexually active.
Brush up on the research
UBC has some amazing folks doing some interesting research on sexual health and sexuality:
- Dr. Lori Brotto and the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory
- The UBC Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice
- UBC Faculty of Medicine Youth Sexual Health Team
Increasing your sexual health literacy is a learning process, one that includes being both critical and curious. Even as an adult, it is okay to not have all the answers – as long as you keep looking.
Talking about sexual health as a parent can add another layer to a tricky topic, one that can provoke both anxiety and stress. For any parents or guardians out there looking for tips on how to talk about this topic with your kids, consider registering for our upcoming workshop:
All my best,
By Miranda Massie on May 5, 2015
I wanted to spend this month’s editorial taking about an aspect of health that is very close to my heart. This particular topic is not often openly discussed, especially among adults and yet, at its core, is strongly linked to both our mental and physical wellbeing.
A lack of open dialogue and access to accurate information on this topic can lead to misinformation, confusion, shame and even illness. Have you guessed it yet?
Let’s talk about sex.
In my life outside of UBC, I am a community sexual health educator. I feel passionately about empowering society (particularly children and youth) with accurate, informative and non-judgmental sexual health information. According to the World Health Organization, sexual health is “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.”[Source]
There are myriad of different elements related to sexual health that can impact our overall wellbeing including reproduction, sexuality, infection and disease prevention, intimacy, pleasure, relationships, safety, body image, and more. The presence of a challenge or a decline in one area of our health can impact other areas of our life in ways that we perhaps do not realise.
Sex and sexuality are very personal and discussing them openly can be challenging. Knowing where to access accurate and unbiased information can also be a frustrating task that may lead to additional stress and anxiety.
Like other aspects of our wellbeing, there are valuable benefits that can be had from caring for our sexual health! There are also some interesting facts to be aware of that may normalize (self-imposed or societal) feelings of inadequacy.
Facts about sexual health:
- Emotions can impact libido or levels of sexual desire.
- Levels of sexual desire differ from person to person and from day to day. Do what is right for you, not what you think or hear is ‘normal’.
- Overall sexual satisfaction is linked to overall quality of life.
- Certain medications (particularly those used in treating mental health conditions) can decrease your libido or levels of sexual desire.
- Though some physical functions may diminish over time, sexuality does not disappear with age. Good health has been found to be a strong predictor of being more sexually active later in life.
Health benefits of sex:
- Intimacy (sexual or emotional) fosters wellbeing and its absence may be psychologically and physically harmful to our health.
- Knowing and confirming that you are free of infection or illness can alleviate stress and anxiety.
- Sexual activity has been linked to lower blood pressure.
- The hormone oxytocin is released during orgasm. Oxytocin can result in better sleep, enhanced feelings of optimism and can promote a sense of bonding.
- In men, more frequent ejaculation has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
- Experiencing a non-consensual or unwanted sexual experience can have negative impacts on mental health and wellbeing. If you are in need of support, options include counselling, advocacy and support services. Options include your EFAP at 1-800-361-5676 or the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres (604-876-2622).
Have you ever heard the expression that ‘the sexiest body part is the brain’? That is why is it important to keep learning and to remain critical of where you access information. When we don’t know enough about our sexual health or if we are ashamed to talk about it, there is a chance of putting our health (or the health of others) at risk.
Though the physical act of sex occurs behind closed doors, our sexual health needn’t exist surrounded by silence. I am opening the door to a conversation around sexual health today and I invite you to think about the role that it plays in your life. Everyone deserves accurate sexual health information in order to lead safe, pleasurable and fulfilled lives.
All my best,
Looking for trusted and credible information and resources?
Videos, reading lists and websites for youth, adults, parents, seniors and more:
Chao, J-K., Lin,Y-C., Ma, M-C., Lai, C-J., Ku, Y-C. , Kuo, W-H., Chao, I-C. (2011) Relationship Among Sexual Desire, Sexual Satisfaction, and Quality of Life in Middle-Aged and Older Adults. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 37(5).
Frappier, J., Toupin, I., Levy, J.J., Aubertin-Leheudre, M., Karelis, A.D. (2013). Energy Expenditure during Sexual Activity in Young Healthy Couples. PLoS ONE 8(10): e79342. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079342
Rathus, S.A., Nevid, J.S., Fincher-Rathus, L., Herold, E.D., McKay, A. (2013). Human sexuality in a world of diversity (4th ed.). Toronto, ON: Pearson Education Inc.
Rogers, P. (2014, 07/21) The Health Benefits of Sex. Healthline. Retrieved from: http://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sex-health-benefits#Overview1