Hi everyone! I hope you are having a nice week thus far. Today I want to talk about climate change and mental health. If you’re new around here, on my blog I share a variety of content: evidenced-based nutrition, environmental health, and climate change content, as well as some vegan recipes and tidbit of my life sprinkled in between.
I tend to alternate my science posts based on whatever I feel is interesting or relevant or requested. I’m currently partaking in a climate leadership training to become a climate educator/community leader so right now I’m super revved up about talking about climate change.
I’m going to probably do a mini-series about climate change and some of its lesser-talked about consequences, including things like mental health (which we will cover in today’s posts), displacement, and more.
As always, feel free to leave questions or comments on this post, or reach out to me on one of my social media channels.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, please see the following resources:
- National Institute of Health’s Mental Illness help page
- National Alliance on Mental Illness help page
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
- Crisis Text Line: Text “HELLO” to 741741
- SAMHA’s National Helpline and help-page (for substance abuse and mental disorders)
- National Eating Disorders Association
What is climate change?
Climate change is the long-term changes to average weather patterns that have come to define the earth’s local, regional and global climates.
If you’d like to learn more about climate change, I have a variety of posts about it. Here are a few introductory posts if you’d like to get started:
- What is the difference between climate and weather?
- How does CO2 contribute to climate change?
- How does climate change impact human health?
What is mental health?
Mental health refers to not just the absence of mental illness, mental problems and mental disorders, but also to the inclusion of mental wellness, emotional resilience, and psychosocial well-being.
Being mentally well includes experiencing positive emotions, a sense of meaning or purpose, and having strong social connections.
How could climate change be connected to mental health?
Climate change is connected to a variety of stressors, which can subsequently take a toll on mental health.
Climate change can impact mental health both directly and indirectly. Direct impacts may be related to things like heat stress, and indirect impacts are more related to things like the threat of climate change to health and well-being, displacement and forced migration, economic losses, violence, and habitat loss, etc.
Broadly speaking, researchers have categorized the impacts of climate change on mental health into three categories.
The first category include acute (short-term) extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods and wildfires.
The second group includes longer term climate-related changes that may last months to years, including like drought and heat stress, and the third group includes the effects of existential threats of long-lasting changes that will last a century or longer, including things like rising sea levels, the potential of uninhabitable environments, and higher temperatures.
Any short, medium, or long term event has the potential to profoundly impact the mental health of an individual. After all, these events have the ability to displace people from their homes, their occupations, and sense of identity and purpose, and present as a looming threat over an individual’s daily routine and well-being.
We will discuss a few examples of types of climate stressors and their documented impacts on mental health.…