Climate change poses ‘serious risks’ to mental health

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned, on the occasion of the ‘Stockholm+50’ environmental conference, that climate change poses “serious risks” to mental health and well-being.

In a report, he has urged countries to include mental health support in their response to the climate crisis, citing examples of several pioneering countries that have effectively incorporated it, such as the Philippines and India.

Consequently, through a report, he has urged countries to include mental health support in their response to the climate crisis and gives examples of several pioneering countries that have incorporated it effectively.

The document’s conclusions coincide with those of a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in February this year.

According to the IPCC, the rapidity of climate change poses “a growing threat” to mental health and psychosocial well-being, causing disorders ranging from emotional distress to anxiety, depression, pain or suicidal behaviour.

“The impact of climate change is compounding the already extremely challenging situation for mental health and mental health services globally. There are nearly 1 billion people living with mental health conditions, yet in low- and middle-income countries, 3 out of 4 do not have access to needed services” said Dévora Kestel, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO. “By ramping up mental health and psychosocial support within disaster risk reduction and climate action, countries can do more to help protect those most at risk.”

“The effects of climate change are increasingly present in our daily lives, and there is little specialist mental health support for individuals and communities facing climate-related dangers and long-term risk,” The director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health of the WHO María Neira, commented.

The international health organization of the United Nations points out that the effects of climate change on mental health are distributed “unevenly” among certain groups that are affected “disproportionately”, due to factors such as socioeconomic status, gender or age.

According to a WHO survey carried out in 2021 in 95 countries, only 9 of them had, to date, including mental health and psychosocial support in their national plans on health and climate change.

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As good examples, the WHO mentions the Philippines, which rebuilt and improved its mental health services after the impact of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, or India, where a project “has made it possible to scale up disaster risk reduction, in addition, to prepare cities to respond to climate risks and address mental health and psychosocial needs.”

“The impact of climate change is aggravating the already extremely complicated situation in which mental health and mental health services find themselves globally. Nearly a billion people live with mental disorders, but in low-income countries and medium, three out of four people do not have access to necessary services By increasing mental health and psychosocial support as part of disaster risk reduction and climate-related measures, countries will be able to do more to help protect people who are most at risk,” said Dévora Kestel, Director of the WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

Specifically, they recommend five approaches for governments to address the mental health effects of climate change. First, integrate climate considerations into mental health programming, as well as support mental health with climate action. They also claim to reduce the “significant gap” in funding that exists for mental health and psychosocial support.

“WHO the Member States have made it very clear that, for them, mental health is a priority. We are working closely with countries to protect people’s physical and mental health from climate threats,” he stressed. Dr. Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum is responsible for the fight against climate change at the WHO, and one of the main authors of the IPCC.

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