Major impacts of climate change expected on mental health

Dec 03, 2009

Leading mental health researchers are warning that some of the most important health consequences of climate change will be on mental health, yet this issue is unlikely to be given much attention at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen next week.

Dr Lisa Page and Dr Louise Howard from the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) at King's College London reviewed a range of recent research by scientists into the potential impacts of .

In an article published in Psychological Medicine online, the two mental health experts conclude that climate change has the potential to have significant negative effects on global mental health. These effects will be felt most by those with pre-existing serious mental illness, but that there is also likely to be an increase in the overall burden of mental disorder worldwide.

The scientists urge for the lack of research into the mechanisms that cause the effects of climate change on mental disorder to be addressed, so that mental health policy makers can plan for the significant impacts of climate change on mental health that are to be expected.

Dr Page, lead author of the article and Clinical Lecturer in Liaison Psychiatry at the IoP, comments: 'Climate change is assuming centre stage with the upcoming UN conference in Copenhagen. While delegates will discuss the effects of climate change and possible responses by the international governments, we fear that the effects of climate change on mental health will be largely ignored, posing a tremendous risk to the mental health of millions of people in the not-too-distant future.'

Dr Page and Dr Howard identified the following ways in which climate change is likely to impact mental health:

  • , such as floods, cyclones and droughts, are predicted to increase as a consequence of climate change. Adverse psychiatric outcomes are well documented in the aftermaths of natural disasters and include post-traumatic stress disorder, major and somatoform disorders.
  • The needs of people will chronic mental illness have often been overlooked following disaster in favour of trauma-focused psychological interventions and yet the mentally ill occupy multiply vulnerabilities for increased mortality and morbidity at such times.
  • As global temperatures increase, people with mental illness are particularly vulnerable to heat-related death. Contributing risk factors such as psychotropic medication, pre-existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease and substance misuse, are all highly prevalent in people with serious mental illness. In addition, maladaptive coping mechanisms and poor quality housing are likely to further increase vulnerability, and death by suicide may also increase above a certain temperature threshold.
  • Adverse impacts such as psychological distress, anxiety and traumatic stress resulting from emerging infectious disease outbreaks are also likely to increase if the predicted outbreaks of serious infectious diseases become reality.
  • Coastal change and increased flooding is expected to lead to forced mass migration and displacement, which will undoubtedly lead to more in affected population.
  • Urbanisation, a phenomenon which will be partially beneficial, for example by increasing opportunities for work and better access to health services, is associated with an increased incidence of schizophrenia in developed countries. In many low- and middle-income countries, mental health provision is already hugely inadequate and is unlikely to be prioritised should further economic collapse occur secondary to climate change.
  • The knowledge of man-made climate change could in itself have adverse effects on individual psychological well-being.
More information: L. Page and L. Howard, 'The impact of climate change on mental health (but will mental health be discussed at Copenhagen)?', 30 November 2009. Psychological Medicine online.

Source: King's College London (news : web)

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User comments : 12

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deatopmg
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 03, 2009
The predominance of un-altered evidence is that global warming (aka "climate change") is the result of external, to the Earth, forces & has been going on since the "little ice age" ended several centuries ago. So, this study is just one more house of cards built upon unsupportable predictions of the AGW religious quicksand.
defunctdiety
4 / 5 (4) Dec 03, 2009
...mental health...scientists urge for the lack of research into the mechanisms that cause the effects of climate change on mental disorder to be addressed

Another sect of science wanting to get in on the AGW grant grab-bag. The reach of it's corruption knows no bounds.
christian_physicist
3 / 5 (2) Dec 03, 2009
Wow. I saw someone joking yesterday that if you applied for a grant to study the mating habits of squirrels, you would be turned down. But if you applied for a grant to study the effects of climate change on the mating habits of squirrels - tada! money galore. I felt like that was a bit of an exaggeration, but maybe I should change my mind.
Gammakozy
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 03, 2009
The conclusions are obvious. All change increases stress. And those whose coping skills are already seriously challenged or lack resiliency are likely to be more affected. The problem is that the premise is flawed. It assumes that global warming is a reality when it is not. It also assumes that if it were a fact then the changes would happen quicker than humans could adapt. Humans have a tremendous capacity for adaptation as has been demonstrated over many thousands of years. The only humans that I see not adapting are the global warming alarmists who refuse to alter their mindset that man is creating global warming even though the tide of evidence is turning against their presumed facts. Replace the threat of global warming with a life ending asteroid collision or the earth being sucked into a black hole and you will get the same conclusions. The mentally are struggling enough with real problems in their lives already. Let's not make their lives worse with fabricated potential threats
dtxx
Dec 04, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2009
How is it affecting the mental health of AGW true believers?
chrisp
1 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2009
The conclusions are obvious. All change increases stress. And those whose coping skills are already seriously challenged or lack resiliency are likely to be more affected. The problem is that the premise is flawed. It assumes that global warming is a reality when it is not. It also assumes that if it were a fact then the changes would happen quicker than humans could adapt. Humans have a tremendous capacity for adaptation as has been demonstrated over many thousands of years. The only humans that I see not adapting are the global warming alarmists who refuse to alter their mindset that man is creating global warming even though the tide of evidence is turning against their presumed facts. Replace the threat of global warming with a life ending asteroid collision or the earth being sucked into a black hole and you will get the same conclusions. The mentally are struggling enough with real problems in their lives already. Let's not make their lives worse with fabricated potential thre
chrisp
not rated yet Dec 04, 2009
"The problem is that the premise is flawed. It assumes that global warming is a reality when it is not".....fabricated potential threats."

It's always the case when a person's beliefs are more important than the truth itself. One can easily believe that they're not responsible for the health of the planet, because they don't have to do anything if 'nothing's happening'.
Global warming skeptics mindset is simply reflecting how a mind can flip flop in times of uncertainty - to change or not to change. The earth doesn't care if you believe it's warming or not. It will continue to adjust to man-made pollution, but the adjustments may not be favorable for human conplacency and comfort - unsustainable living practices.
A great deal of mental health will improve, when sustainable living becomes the common way of living.
We actually now the least about the human mind, where human suffering really occurs, and where atomic bombs are conceived; or a decision to live better.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2009
A great deal of mental health will improve, when sustainable living becomes the common way of living.
We actually now the least about the human mind, where human suffering really occurs, and where atomic bombs are conceived; or a decision to live better.


It would help if all had governments protected their peoples' property rights and individual liberty instead of coercing them to empower the state.
brokenpuppet
not rated yet Dec 07, 2009

It's always the case when a person's beliefs are more important than the truth itself. One can easily believe that they're not responsible for the health of the planet, because they don't have to do anything if 'nothing's happening'

We all know how polluted our home is, we can not deny our part in this mess However,pollution & 'global warming/climate change' is a connection fabricated so pollution can become the next most lucrative industry. At best pollution levels will remain the same under cap and trade type agreement, worst case, pollution worsens as the market remains dead and dieing the economy may collapse and money for investing in clean fuel research and working towards sustainability will come to a halt, Starving the machine that at this point could save or kill us. This is about money, pull out all the bought hidden shelved clean technology, all the money spent debating global warming and that will be wasted on cap and trade use instead to R&D sustainable technology
nada
not rated yet Dec 07, 2009
Its amazing how stupid people are. The argument is really about whether pollution is good or bad and the stupid are saying pollution is good.

The masses are sooo dumbed down. I think its due to modern sanitation. These people think that sewage is just magically taken away. They have no clue of all the deseases due to poor sanitation. AND YET they profess to understand pollution in the atmosphere enough to claim its all a fraud. What fools.

Pollution is bad. We need to cut down on polluting. Its as simple as that.
nada
not rated yet Dec 07, 2009
Remember, these same people are fighting the upgrades of sanitation systems in cities for the same reason: "money". And they use the same arguments.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2009
Remember, these same people are fighting the upgrades of sanitation systems in cities for the same reason: "money". And they use the same arguments.


Who are the people opposing nuclear energy? A very clean energy technology.
BTW, CO2 is not a pollutant.