Thursday, March 30, 2017

Climate Change's Mental Health Impacts Need Care Too, Group Says

Often overlooked, the mental part of dealing with extreme weather and other climate impacts is crucial, new report says.

The longterm impacts of climate-related events like the flooding in Louisiana in 2016 are important to address, a new report says. (Credit: Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
When a storm driven by climate change forces a family from its home, the impacts don't necessarily disappear once the waters recede and the damage is repaired. Though harder to spot, the impacts on people's mental health can be pervasive and enduring.

That is the thrust of a report released Wednesday by the American Psychological Association called "Mental Health and Our Changing Climate:  Impacts, Implications, and Guidance."

The report builds on previous work and examines the harm caused by the various manifestations of climate change, from extreme weather and wildfires to heat waves and the general "eco-anxiety" that comes from coping with the enormity of the climate crisis.

"We have this strange situation with climate change in our country that people don't talk about it much, and that means we don't have the opportunity to get prepared for it," said Susan Clayton, one of the report's authors.  "That makes it scarier.  It seems so amorphous."

The news about climate change can be so frightening, so overwhelming, that instead of shaking people into awareness, it can drive them toward denial.  One study cited by the report found that people who received complex information about the threat of climate change felt more helpless and more likely to want to avoid hearing about it in the future.

"Talking about it makes it more manageable and concrete.  It can also increase the political will to do something about it," said Clayton.

Read more at Climate Change's Mental Health Impacts Need Care Too, Group Says

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