How Climate Change does affect Mental Health?
Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a condition of well-being in which each individual fulfils their potential, can cope with life's stressors, can work successfully and effectively, and can contribute to their community. Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) is defined by the WHO as any sort of local or outside help aimed at protecting or promoting psychosocial well-being and/or preventing or treating mental disorders.
Proliferating climate change harms mental health and psychological well-being – IPCC
A new WHO policy brief has been launched at the Stockholm+50 conference on June 3rd, 2022, emphasizing the serious risks posed by climate change on mental health and well-being. The Stockholm Conference honours the UN Conference on the Human Environment's 50th anniversary and emphasises the relevance of environmental variables for physical and mental health. WHO cited examples of the nations where mental health support has been included concerning climate change and insisted other countries establish the same. Dating back to February 2022, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that the proliferating climate change harms mental health and psychological well-being, causing problems such as emotional distress, stress, anxiety, depression, grief, self-harm, and suicidal behaviour.
Mental health issues caused by climate change are disproportionate among the communities – Dr Maria Neira
Dr Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at WHO explained that the impact of climate change seeps through our daily lives, and those who are struggling with climate-related hazards and their associated long-term risks are not offered enough mental health support. It can be observed that the mental health issues caused by climate change are not evenly distributed among all the communities and groups. This disproportion observed is due to various factors such as socioeconomic status, gender, and age. But, climate change impacts many of the already deteriorating mental health social determinants. WHO surveyed 95 countries in 2021 and found that only 9 of them established mental health and psychosocial support in their national health and climate change plans.
The challenging situation of the mental health and global mental health services are aggravated by the climate change – Dévora Kestel
Dévora Kestel, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO mentioned that the challenging situation of the mental health and global mental health services are aggravated by the influence of climate change. The number of individuals living with mental health conditions ranges up to 100 crores, yet in low- and middle-income countries, 3 out of every 4 individuals is incapable of accessing the necessary services. Global countries would be able to keep up their motto of prevention being better than cure by boosting the mental health and psychosocial support within their action plan including reduction of disaster risks and climate action.
5 crucial strategies for countries to address the mental health impacts caused by climate change, as recommended by the new WHO policy brief:
- It is essential to incorporate climate change issues into mental health programs
- It is advised to combine mental health support with climate action
- It is crucial to expand upon global objectives
- It is significant to create strategies focused on communities to reduce vulnerabilities
- It is important to bridge the significant gap in funding for mental health and psychosocial support
WHO is working closely with governments to protect the physical and mental health of the people from climate change concerns. - Dr. Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum
Dr. Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, WHO climate lead and an IPCC lead author mentioned that the member states of the organization stated mental health as their priority, and the organization, is working closely with governments to protect the physical and mental health of the people from climate change concerns. For instance, in the Philippines, post-Typhoon Haiyan’s impact in 2013 has renovated and upgraded its mental health services. In India, there established a national project where the disaster risks have been reduced while addressing mental health and psychosocial needs and making the urban areas ready for climate threats.