- The World Health Organization (WHO) states that changes in weather affect mental health.
- Its experts recommend including mental health and psychosocial support within disaster risk reduction and climate action.
What Is Climate Change?
“Climate change” means the long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. WHO considers it the most significant global health hazard in the 21st century, as it has been linked to:
- Global warming
- Food and water scarcity
- Increased flooding
- More diseases
- Increased economic expenditure
How Can Weather Affect Mental Health
Experts increasingly link climate change to poor physical and psychological health. Recent research shows that drastically altered weather affects mood, emotional functioning, and cognitive abilities in people. This, in turn, impacts their age, gender, and socio-economic status.
Climate changes mental health by causing:
- Emotional distress
- Seasonal affective disorders (SAD)
- Anxiety disorders (especially climate change anxiety)
- Stress disorders
- Depressive disorders
- Schizo-affective disorders
- Suicidal behavior
Limiting The Mental Health Effects Of Climate Change
The WHO recommends nations add mental health support to their climate change crisis response—especially in disaster risk reduction and climate action plans.
Especially in low and middle-income countries, mental health services should be sufficiently funded and ramped up to meet the mental health emergencies triggered by the climate crisis.
Dévora Kestel, of WHO, elaborated: “The impact of climate change is compounding the already extremely challenging situation for mental health and mental health services globally. There are nearly one billion people living with mental health conditions, yet in low and middle-income countries, three out four do not have access to needed services.”