Mental health issues on the rise due to global warming say scientists

Study gives depressing look at how climate change puts Americans’ mental health at risk

Health Problems, Global Warming Linked, Per Study

Is it possible that climate change can make a harmful impact on our mental health? However, according to a new study, the effects of the rising global temperature would not just be environmental. The team led by Obradovich looked at mental health information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System of over 2 million Americans and correlated it with daily meteorological and climatic data changes between 2002 and 2012.

Guterres said poor mental health during adolescence has an impact on educational achievement and increases the risk of alcohol and substance use and violent behaviour.

Overall, those most vulnerable to the climate change effects studied include people with lower incomes, individuals with existing mental health problems and women, the research indicated.

Exposure to natural catastrophes such as hurricanes saw a 4 percent increase in mental health difficulties.

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 US and 2.1 percent increase in Mexico.

This year's World Mental Health Day focuses on young people. The odds of reporting mental health problems were 2 percentage points higher in extremely rainy months with more than 25 days of precipitation than they were in months with no precipitation at all.

"We find that experience with hotter temperatures and added precipitation each worsen mental health, that multiyear warming associates with an increased prevalence of mental health issues, and that exposure to tropical cyclones, likely to increase in frequency and intensity in the future, is linked to worsened mental health", the study's authors wrote.

The CDC data showed that after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast region in August 2005, reports of mental health problems increased in places with declared disasters.

Tarun Dua, mental health expert at WHO, explained: "Half of mental health disorders arise before the age of 14".

While all three factors were significantly associated with worse mental health, there was a clear hierarchy among them - hurricanes were the worst, followed by long-term warming and short-term temperature changes.

Dr. Jonathan Patz, a professor and director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the study is consistent with recent work by other scientists, including his own research on heat waves and hospital admissions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, over a 17-year period, he said.

The participants were asked to report their mental health status, stress, anxiety, depression and mood changes over 30 days.

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