Climate Change Is Bad for Our Mental Health

Health Problems, Global Warming Linked, Per Study

World Mental Health Day: Climate change responsible for depression, anxiety

Half of all mental disorders begin at the adolescent age - before the age of 14 - but most cases go undetected and untreated, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

This study echoes (and builds upon) previous research that found an association between heat waves (which are expected to increase in frequency and intensity as a result of climate change) and increased hospital admissions for self-harm and other health concerns. The survey involved an assessment of the participants' mental health over the course of 10 years (from 2002 to 2012). Combining the responses with meteorological data, researchers found that an average maximum temperature greater than 30 degrees Celsius can increase the probability of mental health issues by 1 percent.

Especially significant given the dire United Nations climate change report is the authors' finding that people affected by Hurricane Katrina had a 4 percent higher prevalence of mental-health issues than people in comparably sized communities who had not experienced a natural disaster. They said they singled out this type of natural disaster because climate change is expected to make these storms more frequent and more intense. One signified there had been mental health difficulties over the 30 days. The group of scientists gathered the data and made large-scale quantification of risks for mental health made by climate change. "It is time to act on mental health". When these factors were combined, they calculated that the negative effect of high temperatures on mental health was twice as high for low-income women as it was for high-income men.

Finally, the team considered the toll of hurricanes on mental health.

Health Problems, Global Warming Linked, Per Study

Some people were more vulnerable than others, the researchers found.

Finally, the team examined mental health reports from people affected by Hurricane Katrina and compared them to reports from people in comparable-sized places that had not been affected by the catastrophic hurricane.

That said, Nick Obradovich, lead author of the study and a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, told CNN that the exact correlation between mental health problems and increased temperatures is unclear. The authors explain that yearly warming climates, short term exposure to extremes of weather as well as routine exposure to cycles could have a detrimental effect on the mental health of individuals. Experiencing Katrina was linked to a four percentage point increase in the prevalence of mental health problems.

"Given the vital role that sound mental health plays in personal, social, and economic well-being", Obradovich and his coauthors concluded, "our findings provide added evidence that climatic changes pose substantial risks to human systems".

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