November 29, 2011

New Mental Health Research

Yesterday we held our bi-monthly meeting of Women’s Alliance members (nonprofit organizations that work with girls and women – this includes grantees and non-grantees) and heard a presentation from Laura Healless, LISW, MSW, who is the social worker involved in our DASH Pilot Project. 

Laura’s work is based on research including the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, a study conducted at Kaiser Permanente (1995-97) involving over 17,000 participants.  Each participant had a standard physical examination and completed a confidential survey about their childhood (through age 18), particularly related to experiences and family dysfunction.  Attached is a copy of this simple survey.

Participants were then tracked according to health status and behaviors, and the groundbreaking results proved a direct correlation between traumatic (“adverse”) childhood experiences and a multitude of health and social problems throughout a lifetime.  And the severity and extent of health problems increases according to an increase in these adverse experiences.  The documented health problems noted included:

×          Adolescent pregnancy
×          Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
×          Anxiety
×          Chronic pain
×          Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
×          Depression
×          Diabetes
×          Early death
×          Early initiation of sexual activity
×          Early initiation of smoking
×          Fetal death
×          Hallucinations
×          Health-related quality of life
×          Hypertension
×          Illicit drug use
×          Ischemic heart disease (IHD)
×          Liver disease
×          Lung cancer
×          Memory disturbances
×          Multiple sexual partners
×          Risk for intimate partner violence
×          Sexual abuse
×          Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
×          Smoking
×          Suicide attempts
×          Unintended pregnancies
×          Violence

Resulting from the ACE Study, the medical community is now being trained in both ACE and what is termed “Trauma-Informed Care,” meaning that clinicians are looking further into the social history of patients to uncover the factors that may have influenced the diseases and behaviors they are diagnosing.  By identifying and discussing these experiences, patients can then learn to model a healthier lifestyle – that they do not need to continue in a pattern set in childhood.  The medical and public health community is adopting this key understanding, including major funders such as the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program.

If you’re interested, here are definitions of Adverse Childhood Experiences from the clinicians involved in the study:  

Adverse Childhood Experiences Definitions
The following categories all occurred in the participant's first 18 years of life.
Emotional Abuse
Often or very often a parent or other adult in the household swore at you, insulted you, or put you down and sometimes, often or very often acted in a way that made you think that you might be physically hurt.
Physical AbuseSometimes, often, or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at you or ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured.
Sexual Abuse
An adult or person at least 5 years older ever touched or fondled you in a sexual way, or had you touch their body in a sexual way, or attempted oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you or actually had oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you.

Emotional Neglect
Respondents were asked whether their family made them feel special, loved, and if their family was a source of strength, support, and protection.  Emotional neglect was defined using scale scores that represent moderate to extreme exposure.
Physical Neglect
Respondents were asked whether there was enough to eat, if their parents drinking interfered with their care, if they ever wore dirty clothes, and if there was someone to take them to the doctor.  Physical neglect was defined using scale scores that represent moderate to extreme exposure.
Mother Treated Violently
Your mother or stepmother was sometimes, often, or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her and/or sometimes often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard, or ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or ever threatened or hurt by a knife or gun.
Household Substance Abuse

Lived with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or lived with anyone who used street drugs.
Household Mental Illness
A household member was depressed or mentally ill or a household member attempted suicide.
Parental Separation or DivorceParents were ever separated or divorced.
Incarcerated Household Member
A household member went to prison.

For Chrysalis, our role is to share this information and to teach it in our educational programs for grantees, other nonprofits, and Chrysalis After-School program staff – all in our continued efforts to strengthen and support girls and women.

November 7, 2011

Women's Economic Gains

What’s truly interesting is how many gains women have made over the past few decades.  I remembered reading a TIME Magazine article in high school (1972!) that was devoted to how women were now progressing through the new movement “women’s lib.”  There was a sense at the time that women were making no gains – that the women’s movement had stalled. 

But I remembered reading Gloria Steinem’s view: “in terms of real power – economic and political – we are just beginning.”  So I wanted to look at how much progress we’ve actually made since that article came out:

×          In 1972, 7% of students playing high school sports were girls; now the number is now over six times as high.
×          The female high school dropout rate has fallen by more than half.
×          College enrollment was about 60% male, now it’s over 60% female.
×          Less than 10% of law and medical degrees were granted to women, today it’s over half.
×          There was only one women’s foundation – MS – and today there are over 170 worldwide.


×          Half of Ivy League college presidents our women.
×          Until just recently, 2 of 3 network news anchors were women.
×          Four of the five most recent Secretaries of State have been women.
×          The last election cycle involved 2 women – Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.
×          The President of the US was raised by a single mother and is married to an attorney who has out-earned and outranked him in the corporate world.

There also seems to be greater acceptance of women’s economic power:

×          89% of both women and men are comfortable with the idea of a woman earning more than the man of the household.
×          74% of men and 71% of women disagree with the notion that women in the workplace need to behave more like men.
×          71% of men agree that they are more comfortable than their fathers with women working outside the home.
×          Over 70% of women say they are less financially dependent on their spouse than their mothers were.

It’s amazing how much has changed in just one generation – but there is certainly plenty that needs to change.  Our work is to continue sharing the research and evidence that the power of women is evolving – socially, professionally, economically, politically – and that Chrysalis intends to continue being an engine pushing for this change.

Thank you for being a Chrysalis “engineer!”

See you Tuesday at INSPIRED: Financial Health!

November 1, 2011

Jean Kilbourne's Killing Us Softly

A Chrysalis Board member reminded us of this trailblazing work, updated in 2010 regarding the advertising industry's treatment of women and the message sent to women and girls.

Chrysalis After-School in the News

The Whyld Girls program, funded in part by chrysalis was highlighted in the news last week.

Check it out and consider joining the cause as a Life Coach.