Mental illnesses including depression and post-traumatic stress have increased as a result of climate change.
According to a new study, prepared for the Climate Change Institute, loss of social cohesion in the wake of severe weather events related to climate change are linked to highly increased rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse.
As many as three in five people reported ”emotional injury, stress and despair” in the wake of these events.
The report, A Climate of Suffering: Mental Health Crisis Caused by Climate Change, called the past 15 years a ”preview of life under unrestrained global warming”.
”While cyclones, drought, bushfires and floods are all a normal part of life, there is no doubt our climate is changing,” the report says.
”Recent conditions are entirely consistent with the best scientific predictions: as the world warms so the weather becomes wilder, with dramatic effect on people’s health and well-being.”
The paper suggests that climate change has led to an increase in the suicide rate in rural communities, which it claims rose by 28 per cent.
The report also looks at mental health in the aftermath of major weather events possibly linked to climate change.
It shows that four in 10 primary school children, nationally, reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
”There’s really clear evidence around severe weather events,” the executive director of the Brain and Mind Institute (BMI), Professor Ian Wickman, said.
”We’re now more sophisticated in understanding the mental health effects and these effects are one of the major factors.
”What we have seriously underestimated is the effects on social cohesion. That is very hard to rebuild and they are critical to the mental health of an individual.”
”When we talk about the next 50 years and what are going to be the big drivers at the community level of mental health costs, one we need to factor in are severe weather events, catastrophic weather events,” he said.
Here’s the latest “mental victim” of Climate Change: