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CLIMATE CHANGE AND MENTAL HEALTH


When one hears the term “Climate Change '' their initial thoughts revolve around the

degradation of the environment and its impact on our physical health. But do we ever think

about the impact it has on our mental health? Anthropogenic activities and the constant

neglect towards our environment have altered the balance of nature leading to detrimental

effects like global warming. Droughts, floods, heat waves, wildfires, coastal erosion along

with other serious effects disrupt physical, social as well as economic systems which are

essential for psychological well being.

It has been observed that the rise in temperature has a direct relationship with the increase in

mental health disorders, suicides along with more frequent commitment of crimes. An

approximate 1% increase in the rate of suicides globally for every 1 degree celsius increase in

temperature have been put forward. Direct exposure to climate disasters can cause PTSD, low

mood, extreme distress as well as depression (Lawrance, Thompson, Fontana and Jennings,

2021). In a study conducted on a sample of people affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it

was found that the rate of suicide as well as the ideation of suicide has doubled itself, further,

1 in 6 people suffered with PTSD and 49% of the sample were subjected to depression and

anxiety

Even awareness and perception about the climate crisis can augment mental and emotional

distress In a report composed by the American Psychological Association in 2017, the term

“eco-anxiety” was introduced regarding the impact of climate change on the mental health of

individuals. It was defined as “a chronic fear of environmental doom” which is induced due

to the evident irrevocable and diminishing impact of climate change and the perception of

agony for the future and experiencing feelings of loss, hopelessness, stress, sleeplessness,

frustration along with panic attacks. However, if kept under control, it represents concern for

what we observe around us and can spur action.

According to the report by APA and eco America, increased social support during and after a

disaster may lead to a decrease in the rates of psychological distress. It also emphasizes the

importance of embracing eco-friendly lifestyle approaches which can have a positive effect

on mental health. For example, use of bicycles or public transports to work have been

analogous to reduced symptoms of depression and stress. Adapting stress. Adapting to small changes

everyday and educating ourselves on the concerning topic may also make one feel

serviceable. Further, a surge in green spaces and accessibility to parks could also benefit as

exposure to nature have resulted in reducing stress related illnesses regardless of age, gender

or socioeconomic status.


References:

https://www.apa.org. 2017. Climate change's toll on mental health.

https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/03/climate-mental-health

Lawrance, E., Thompson, R., Fontana, G. and Jennings, N., 2021. The impact of climate

change on mental health and emotional wellbeing: current evidence and implications for

policy and practice.

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