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Pandemic's Toll on Mental Health

Scott LaFee on

It's a question often asked these days: Who will take care of the caregivers? Usually, it's asked in the context of health care workers laid low by COVID-19, resulting in severe staff shortages at hospitals and elsewhere.

But the question applies as well to mental health. New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research surveying more 26,000 health workers found that more than half reported recent struggles with at least one mental health condition, including depression, anxiety, PTSD or suicidal ideation.

Mental health worsened both as work hours and percentage of time devoted to the pandemic increased. Over one-fifth of survey respondents said they felt "bullied, threatened or harassed because of work."

Borderline Health

A new study reports life expectancy disparities for those living on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico. For Hispanic individuals and those of American Indian and Alaska Native descent living on the border, life expectancy was roughly two years shorter compared with the rest of the country.

At the same time, white, Black and Asian persons living along the border tended to live longer compared with similar groups elsewhere.

 

Though researchers did not investigate the mechanisms behind the disparities, they suggested immigration enforcement and displacement of disadvantaged groups may lead to downstream effects on health and life expectancy.

Body of Knowledge

In every minute, the average human heart beats 75 times, pumping approximately four to five quarts of blood through 60,000 miles of arteries, veins and capillaries. This blood consists of roughly 35 billion red blood cells, 50 billion white blood cells and 1.5 billion platelets. Each red blood cell completes the whole-body circuit three times per minute, each circuit carrying about 100 million oxygen molecules trapped onto roughly 25 million hemoglobin molecules.

All of this frenetic activity means the average red blood cell lasts for just four months, with roughly 300 million perishing every minute and replaced every minute by 300 million new red blood cells.

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