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Climate Change Can Negatively Affect Mental Health, Says Study

Mental health isn’t exactly one of the things that come to mind when the topic of climate change is discussed – more often, the environmental, health, economic, and sometimes even political impacts of climate change are in the spotlight, whereas mental health is pushed aside or not discussed at all. A collaborative study is now revealing that not even mental health is safe from the global effects of climate change.

Following a 2014 report on the mental health effects of climate change, a collaborative study between the American Psychological Association and nonprofit organizations Climate For Health and EcoAmerica discusses the issues surrounding the mental health impacts of climate change. No, they do not mean the political aspect or the conflicts between believers and deniers.

Climate Change And Mental Health

The study focuses on the impact of climate change on the individuals directly affected by its effects such as drought, floods, wildfires, and even displacement due to rising sea levels. Such disastrous events could lead to people losing their homes and family members, and being completely displaced from their normal lives.

From these events arise not just physical injuries and economic damage. The researchers found that those directly impacted by the effects of climate change experienced extreme stress, trauma, loss of control, and long-term post-traumatic stress disorder.

What’s more, researchers found that the stressors brought about by the effects of climate change, whether directly or indirectly experienced, can lead to an impaired mental health, causing anxiety and depression.

In fact, the simple matter of hearing about disasters and the negative impacts of climate change – such as the refugee crisis brought about by a combination of drought and political struggle – can trigger feelings of fear, stress, uncertainty, and vulnerability.

“We know that the Syrian refugee crisis is partly attributable to climate change, to drought in the area, and when you have to leave your home that can of course be stressful. It also disrupts the community. People don’t tend to move all at once. They disperse and those social connections are an important source of strength that can protect your mental wellbeing,” said Susan Clayton, a psychologist at the College of Wooster and co-author of the report.

Climate Literacy

Essentially, the report emphasizes how the effects of climate change are pushing the human spirit almost to its breaking point, whether internally as an individual or as dispersed communities forced to live apart.

Mental health practitioners are encouraged to respond to the seriously growing issue and address the link between mental health and climate change by becoming climate-literate professionals and leaders in their own professional communities.

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(Via TechTimes)