A new study looking at the impact of sexual harassment in the workplace has found that when someone is harassed by a colleague or boss the impact on mental health is worse than when the harassment comes from a customer or client.
The Independent reported on the Danish study, which surveyed more than 7,600 people working for over 1,000 different companies. It noted that over one per cent suffered sexual harassment from a colleague, with 2.4 per cent experiencing the same treatment from someone else they dealt with through their job.
Researchers used the Major Depression Inventory (MDI) to assess the impact of sexual harassment on mental health. By filling in a questionnaire each person is given a score, where 20 indicates mild depression and 30 or more is serious depression.
If a person experienced harassment from a client or customer, their score on this scale increased by 2.05 points. However, when the harassment came from a colleague, the score increased by 4.5 points.
Dr Ida Madsen, from the National Research Centre for the Working Environment in Denmark, said that they were surprised by the results, as this is not a distinction they’ve seen in previous studies.
“This is important as some workplaces, for example in person-related work, may have an attitude that dealing with sexual harassment by clients or customers is ‘part of the job’,” she stated.
The impact of any form of sexual harassment shouldn’t be ignored though, especially given that figures from NHS Digital recently found that almost one-third of sick notes issued by GPs in England between December 2014 and March 2017 were as a result of mental health conditions.
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