Research details climate change’s impact on mental health

Climate change has a negative impact on the planet and our physical health—and according to new research, it also impacts our mental health.

During extreme heat, visits to hospital emergency departments for any type of mental health problems increased, with an incidence rate ratio of 1.08, according to a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry. Mental health conditions measured included substance-use disorders, anxiety, mood disorders, schizophrenia, and self-harm, with higher associations among men.

“This finding may be informative for clinicians providing mental health services during periods of extreme heat to prepare for increases in health service needs when times of extreme heat are anticipated,” the study authors said.

Natural disasters and anxiety

Experiencing natural disasters also harms mental health, and multiple disasters, such as the ones that Texas has faced in recent years, are especially problematic, according to a study by researchers at Texas A&M. Individuals who experienced two or more events had mental composite scores lower than the national average.

“Findings revealed an observed reduction in mental health scores as participants had repeated exposures to major disasters,” the study said. “This research reveals the long-term mental impact hazard exposures can have and underscores the need for targeted public health interventions and engaged community efforts.”

‘Climate anxiety’

Meanwhile, studies are showing that climate change, which is causing many of the extreme heat incidences and natural disasters we are experiencing, is also directly responsible for mental health problems.

“Climate anxiety” is a real phenomenon, according to Research by the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation.

The problem is especially pronounced among young people, further research shows: “Climate change is causing distress, anger and other negative emotions in children and young people worldwide, a survey of thousands of 16- to 25-year-olds has found,” according to Nature.

Biotech solutions

Biotechnology is developing new treatments and solutions for mental illnesses, while also addressing the challenge of climate change.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to talk about mental health challenges and solutions and end the stigma of mental illness. Throughout the month, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is amplifying the message “Together for Mental Health.”

Meanwhile, the biotech industry is also developing solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, as a result, slow temperature rise, according to Good Day Bio.

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