As Climate Change Increases, Our Mental Health Declines
As Climate Change Increases, Our Mental Health Declines
Health Problems, Global Warming Linked, Per Study
13 October, 2018, 00:47
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said United Nations is committed to creating a world where by 2030 everyone, everywhere has someone to turn to in support of their mental health, in a world free of stigma and discrimination.
"Generally what we found was that exposure to hotter temperatures and more precipitation increased the reporting of mental health problems".
Patz, who was not involved in the new research, said the strength of the study includes the high number of participants but noted that the data are "based on a single question about one's mental health and only at the monthly level".
Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, one study led by Stanford University economist Marshall Burke found that a 1.8-degree Fahrenheit increase in monthly average temperature causes a 0.7 percent increase in suicide rates in the USA and 2.1 percent increase in Mexico. Among the 156 cities with data from both periods, they found that when the average maximum temperature increased by 1.8 degrees between the earlier and later years, the prevalence of mental health problems increased by 2 percentage points. This led research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nick Obradovich, to study the effects of climate change on issues such as depression, anxiety and stress. Natural disasters can make that number jump to 4%.
"While the precise magnitude of these climate-induced adversities is hard to estimate, the theoretical relationship between climate change and mental health risk is compelling", the study author notes. "It is time to act on mental health", he said in a message marking World Mental Health Day that falls on October 10. "We had this nice decade's worth of information about how environmental conditions related to the way people reported their mental health status", Obradovich said. The researchers were also able to determine that the people most vulnerable to these consequences were women with lower incomes and previous mental-health issues.
In fact, a 1-degree C change - or a 1.8-degree F increase - could cause a 2 percent increase in mental health problems in just five years.
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Tarun Dua, mental health expert at WHO, explained: "Half of mental health disorders arise before the age of 14".
According to the researchers, every one-degree rise in global temperatures increases the risk of mental-health crises by two percent.
He said millions of people are caught up in conflict and disasters, putting them at risk of a range of long-term mental health problems.
Other studies have found a connection between suicide rates and temperature.
"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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He added: "Every suicide is a preventable death and we are determined to do everything we can to tackle the tragedy of suicide". That is why we were so pleased this week to host the first ever Global Ministerial Summit on mental health .
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