Climate change is posing a serious threat to public health, including mental health. Some are more vulnerable than others to the damning effects of climate change, a report by The American Psychiatric Association (APA) on Mental Health and Climate Change has said.
Given the growing risks of climate change, anxiety can be considered a rational response. Extreme climate-related events cause distress and severe mental health disorders. Losing loved ones and being disconnected from community forces one to think about things beyond our control. This often makes them feel helpless.
The persistent scare and insecurity of evacuation for an indefinite period or damage to property and possessions and that it could be a regular thing is an idea that can be really disruptive for some people.
Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor at the Department of Social And Behavioral Sciences at Yale School of Public Health, Sarah Lowe tells CNBC, “All of these feelings — they’re valid feelings. It’s sad to see the landscape changing. Natural beauty dissipating is objectively sad.”
Researchers, however, argued in the Lancet that climate anxiety “may be the crucible through which humanity must pass to harness the energy and conviction that are needed for the lifesaving changes now required.”
Most affected by climate change
Chronically ill children, people with mobility impairments, mental illness, pregnant and postpartum women, migrants, refugees and those of lower socio-economic status and the homeless are more likely to be affected by extreme weather events.
Lowe explains all emotions felt in the wake of climate change-induced weather events need to be identified and acknowledged first. It is important to prepare for a direct climate change disaster.
“At the individual level, do what you can. Planning is exerting some sense of control,” adds Lowe. At the community level, the more we can do to shield people from traumatic exposures during disasters, the better it is for mental health.
“Take time and space to care for yourself, whether that means meditating, exercising, or spending time in nature,” says Lowe.
Researchers have outlined climate solutions and everyday choices that can help curb mental health impacts and support emotional resiliency and healthy cognitive function. Tangible and effective climate solutions to implement include, physical commuting, such as biking or walking; public transportation; green spaces and clean energy.
They emphasise that an individual’s ability to recover from trauma depends on a complex and dynamic set of factors. Here are a few tips to help support individuals’ success in becoming resilient.
1. Build belief in one’s own resilience.
2. Foster optimism.
3. Cultivate active coping and self-regulation.
4. Find a source of personal meaning.
5. Boost personal preparedness.
6. Support social networks.
7. Encourage connection with parents, family, and other role models.
8. Uphold connection to place.
9. Maintain connections to one’s culture.
(Edited by : Thomas Abraham)
First Published: IST