New Research shows link between climate change and worsening mental health
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March 7, 2023
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New Research shows link between climate change and worsening mental health

Discover the link between climate change and mental health. Learn about the impact of climate-related stressors on our blog.

When discussing climate change, the discourse is often focused on the physical and technical dimensions of the crisis, the rising sea levels, droughts, famines, floods, mass displacements and issues of this sort. Mental health usually takes a back seat in these discussions. We do not wish to suggest that it is just as important but we should remember that climate change will not only cause damage to our material environment but to our psychic environment as well.

Bangladesh study

A recent study published in Lancet Planetary Health studied the link of climate change and mental health in one of the most climate vulnerable countries on earth, Bangladesh. Bangladesh is constantly hit by flooding, cyclones, heatwaves and humidity issues. This is why researchers were attracted to Bangladesh for their study. They found a correlation between rising temperatures and increased levels of depression and anxiety, where a difference of one degree being higher in the two months preceding the study resulted in respondents being 21 percent more likely to have an anxiety disorders and 24 percent more likely to have both depression and an anxiety disorder than before the temperature rise.

Likewise, exposure to flooding also contributed negatively to mental health. It increased the odds of depression by 31 percent, anxiety by 69 percent and increase in having both by 87 percent. This study was particularly important because even though it is intuitive to think that mental health would get worse from climate change, this is the first study that establishes this fact on a local, national level. The study of course, treated only direct effects of climate change in mental health, such as natural disasters. However, indirect effects can be just as heavy in our mental health. These might include population displacement or economic depression which might lead many families into finical instability. In addition, communities can also experience a sense of loss and grief at the destruction of natural habitats and the displacement of people due to climate change.

We should therefore extend our reach to those affected not only in the physical dimension of the crisis but also in the psychic domain. Mental health services should be provided to those affected by extreme weather events and those living in areas vulnerable to climate change. The physical issues caused by climate change are more easily seen and because of this they might overshadow psychological burdens which will be left unaddressed in a lot of people affected. There is a need to inform the public and educate on the effects that climate change can have on their mental health so that they’re more prepared to deal with it when they’re affected.