When we talk about the risks associated with climate change, what comes to our minds first is destruction to wildlife, rapid change in weather conditions, shift in temperatures, irregularity in seasons and the impact they all will have on human life. But climate change can also have an adverse impact on the mental health. A March 2017 report issued by the American Psychological Association (APA), clearly states the impact of this phenomenon on the mental health of individuals.
Disasters associated with climate change, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes among others can have an extreme emotional toll on the victims as they experience feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and sense of loss. The traumatic events may result in disorders like PTSD, anxiety, depression and suicide attempts as well as substance abuse. The lack of direction and purpose in life, and extreme negative emotions can make the survivors or witnesses more aggressive and violent, which can even risk other people’s lives.
As per the report, natural disasters generate fear and grief as the most common response. Though it is only recently that the impact of climate change on mental health has been taken seriously, the repercussions have been felt during some of the worse natural disasters in the United States like Hurricane Katrina, which caused devastation in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. These areas reported an increase in mental disorders like PTSD and depression, which worsened over time, from 15 percent a few months after the storm to 21 percent a year later. Also, of the 329 participants of the Resilience in Survivors of Katrina (RISK) project, nearly half of them had symptoms of PTSD and the rate of serious mental illnesses like depression and psychosis increased to 14 percent.
The factors that determine the impact of such disasters on the mental health of these victims are related to the trauma caused by the loss of lives, loss of property/family members or due to personal injury. The effects are also associated with its impact on certain livelihood activities that are entirely dependent on natural elements, such as agriculture, fishing, farming, etc. The loss of means of livelihood, which by itself, causes stress and when coupled with the need to migrate due to the loss of property, can give rise to displacement and isolation. This gravely unsettles the minds of such individuals and affect their overall quality of life.
In order to reduce the impact of such climate change-related natural disasters on mental health, it is extremely important for planners, policymakers and community-based programs to provide a socio-economic support system. An integrated approach towards creating awareness about climate change, education and training in emergency services, grooming of caregivers, and preparing people to handle such situations can go a long way in reducing shock and trauma.
If you or anyone that you know has recently gone through a stressful life experience and suffering from poor mental health, you are advised to seek professional diagnosis and treatment to save your life from further harm.
The Arizona Mental Health Helpline can assist you in acquiring information about the various mental disorders stemming from stressful events. The experts can guide you in locating best mental health treatment centers in Arizona that are equipped with personalized care programs to suit the patient’s requirements. You may call us on our 24/7 helpline number 866-606-7791 or chat with our qualified service representatives to find out more about mental health disorder treatment centers in Arizona.