Figure 1- How Climate Change Can Affect Our Mental Health.(2022, November 8).Walden University.https://www.waldenu.edu/programs/psychology/resource/how-climate-change-can-affect-our-mental-health
A variety of factors contribute to an individual’s mental health, namely physical health conditions, trauma, social disadvantage, etc. However, we fail to realize the leading element that heavily affects poor mental health: our environment. We are well informed on how polluted environments affect our physical bodies detrimentally, yet we know little to nothing about how it also affects our mental health. The likelihood that climate change has had a negative impact on mental health is quite high, as per the 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is critical that we comprehend how climate change and pollution may affect our mental health since mental health issues keep millions of people from achieving their potential every day.
Climate covers the average temperatures, the quantity of sunlight, and your vulnerability to natural calamities where you live. There is a link between increased mental health problems and climate change. For example, higher rates of violence and violent suicide are correlated with rising temperatures, and more frequent disasters are linked to higher rates of depression, adjustment disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Whether that is bad or intense can be stressful and draining. Your mental health will suffer if you're constantly exposed to scorching heat, battling snow, stumbling over ice, or being soaked to the skin every time you go outside. This is especially true if severe weather puts your life, the lives of your family and friends, or your property in jeopardy. When extreme weather causes unemployment, homelessness, or food and water insecurity, it can also have an effect on some of the social and economic factors that influence mental health thus causing a negative impact on mental health.
It has been proven that rising temperatures and climate change cause levels of allergens and pollutants in the air to rise, resulting in deteriorating air quality. It has also been demonstrated that early exposure to air pollution is linked to the emergence of mental health issues as adolescents enter adulthood. It is hypothesized that this is caused by air pollution, which hinders the central nervous system's growth in a natural manner. Although there's a chance that this is connected to other environmental issues (polluted places generally mix more of these factors than just air pollution), the danger is still important to be aware of. This research indicates that poor air quality might have a significant effect on mental health, especially despair, and anxiety. Short-term exposure to pollutants (PM2.5 and NO2) was linked to an increased risk of acute hospital admission for psychiatric illnesses, according to a sizable study conducted among all Americans over 65 who were registered with Medicare.
Climate change does not only include its physical effects on the environment as a contributing factor to one’s mental health, but it is also the whole topic itself that raises colossal concerns among the mass. A significant survey of 10,000 children and young people across 10 nations found that, according to 45% of respondents, concerns about climate change negatively affect their ability to operate on a day-to-day basis. Another study discovered a link between climate-related negative feelings and increased signs of sleeplessness and poor mental health. Certain terms have been coined to label this form of stress, for example, “eco-guilt” describes the emotions some individuals have when they consider the effects of their own activities on future generations, and the term "eco-anxiety" describes the sentiments of frustration and helplessness some people feel when thinking about climate change.
The following repercussions of climate change on mental health and the physical environment goes to show the urgency of the need for better actions taken to combat climate change. Projects in the likes of the Willow Project show no hope for the future that comes before us. We as inhabitants of this planet need to learn to care for it better to seek a brighter horizon for the youth that will follow us. This can include reducing our carbon footprint by enacting small changes in our daily routines to encourage a more sustainable way of living, one that does not kill the environment that surrounds us. We must aim for a future that holds flourishing ecosystems that don’t limit us physically or mentally.
Massazza, A. (2022, November 7). How climate change affects mental health | News | Wellcome. Wellcome. https://wellcome.org/news/explained-how-climate-change-affects-mental-health
Society, C. (2019, September 23). How your environment affects your mental health. NCS. https://nationalcounsellingsociety.org/blog/posts/how-your-environment-affects-your-mental-health
Lindberg, S. (2023, January 24). How Does Your Environment Affect Your Mental Health? VerywellMind.https://www.verywellmind.com/how-your-environment-affects-your-mental-health-5093687
How Climate Change Can Affect Our Mental Health.(2022, November 8).Walden University.https://www.waldenu.edu/programs/psychology/resource/how-climate-change-can-affect-our-mental-health