Linking Climate Change to Mental health
Climate change has obvious and serious implications on our environment but according to a study, its implications go beyond the physical. It isn’t news that young people today have higher documented cases of mental issues ranging from Anxiety, Depression, Suicidal thoughts, Multiple personality disorders and so on. This has been linked to different reasons, climate change isn’t a popular one.
A new study by the journal PNAS has found that a rise in monthly temperatures can be linked to a small increase in mental health issues. A 1OC Increase in average temperature results in a higher prevalence of mental health problems in over 5 years. This study is even more worrying in light of the recent IPCC report.
Nick Obradovich, lead author of the study and a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab said, “We don’t exactly know why we see high temperatures or increasing temperatures produce mental health problems, For example, is poor sleep due to hot temperatures the thing that produces mental health problems? We have a lot of work to do to figure out precisely what is causing what.”
Obradovich and his colleagues combined data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which includes self-reported personal mental health data on nearly 2 million randomly sampled US residents, with daily meteorological data from 2002 through 2012.
“Anything that falls within the range of stress, anxiety, depression, emotional issues”; this “basically means things that are less extreme than hospitalization and suicide but more significant than like grumpiness or day-to-day emotional [agitation].” Survey respondents reported.
Obradovich and his colleagues linked the mental health reports to metrological data from the city each respondent was resident in. Obradovich commented, “We had this nice decade’s worth of information about how environmental conditions related to the way people reported their mental health status.”
The reports were analyzed in 3 ways by the research team.
First, they looked at temperature and precipitation over a 30-day period and compared that to the mental health. Obradovich reported; “Exposure to hotter temperatures and higher rates of precipitation in that period produced increases in the probability that people were going to report some mental health problem in that period.”
Specifically, the shift from average monthly temperatures between 25C and 30C to averages greater than 30 related to a 0.5 percentage point increase in the probability of mental health difficulties. Obradovich explained that if this exact change in temperature is exacted around the nation it would result in approximately 2 million additional individuals reporting mental health difficulties.
The team analyzed longer-term warming and mental health reports in individual cities next where they found that five-year warming by just 1C was linked to a 2 % increased prevalence of mental health issues.
The team examined mental health reports from people affected by Hurricane Katrina as a final stop and compared them to reports from people in comparable-sized places that were not affected by the catastrophic hurricane. Experiencing Katrina was linked to a 4% point increase in the prevalence of mental health problems.
The demographics most vulnerable to the climate change effects studied include people with lower incomes, individuals with existing mental health problems and women, the research indicated.
Full and detailed article can be found on CNN.