The Mental Impact Of Climate Change
The mental cost of loss
Climate change is predicted to bring floods, heat waves, sea level rises causing loss of land, and forced migration and droughts affecting agriculture and the farmers producing it. And with these concerns comes a variety of issues plaguing the human mind, such as depression, worry, anxiety, substance abuse, aggression and even suicide among those who are unable to cope.
Many psychologists are recommending mental health services be provided as standard parts of a response effort to victims of any natural disaster for this reason. They also suggest identifying risk factors to help protect people from developing any of these conditions in the first place, such as helping people who have been cut off from social support services or preventing extensive damage to homes. Typically, the worse the damage is from a natural disaster, the more likely a person is to have a mental health problem.
Stress has clear physiological effects. Research suggests the impact of weather and changes in climate can take a toll on people's physical and mental health. Psychologists believe that when dealing with mental health aspects, climate change can be broken down into three main categories: natural disasters such as floods and storms, slower changes such as an increasing global temperature, and the loss of social networks or social capital.
With slower changes comes consequences such as aggression and violent behavior associated with higher temperatures, isolation and depression linked to forced migration and landscape changes, and the overall impact of stress. In terms of higher temperatures, research suggests we are less tolerant of other people. Migration is associated with all sorts of problems, and much higher levels of mental health issues. Many populations around the world are facing the threat of forced migration because their land is no longer inhabitable.
Worry is another common element. People worry about climate change, as they're unsure about the potential effects on the economy and security. Psychologists expect there will be impacts of this worry, but don't yet know what they will be.
In all, it's crucial to look further into this field of research and make it a priority, as the repercussions will go beyond individual families and communities.