Climate change causing mild to severe mental health problems in people: IPCC

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Climate change causing mild to severe mental health problems in people: IPCC

Wednesday, 02 March 2022 | Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

A wide range of climatic events and conditions like extreme heat and cold conditions due to global warming will have adverse impact on mental health, leaving people in anxiety, depression, acute traumatic stress and sleep problems ranging from mild to severe which may even require hospitalization, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II's report.

Titled 'Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability', released on Monday, the report notes that the “pathways through which climatic events affect mental health are varied, complex and interconnected with other non-climatic influences that create vulnerability.

"The climatic exposure may be direct, such as experiencing an extreme weather event or prolonged high temperatures, or indirect, such as mental health consequences of undernutrition or displacement," said the report.

It has cautioned that not eliminating emissions will cause serious harm to the world, especially South Asia with increased unbearable heat waves, food and water scarcity and sea level rise.

The report also mentioned non-climatic moderating influences which range from an individual's personality and pre-existing conditions, to social support, to structural inequities.

"Depending on these background and contextual factors, similar climatic events may result in a range of potential mental health outcomes, including anxiety, depression, acute traumatic stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide, substance abuse, and sleep problems, with conditions ranging from being mild in nature to those that require hospitalization," said the report.

Referring to a study, the report said that in Canada, an association was found between mean heat exposure of 28 degree Celsius within four days of exposure and greater hospital admissions for mood and behavioural disorders, including schizophrenia, mood, and neurotic disorders.

"A US study found mental health problems increased by 0.5 per cent when average temperatures exceeded 30 degree C, compared to averages between 25–30 degree C; a 1 degree C warming over five years was associated with a two per cent increase in mental health problems.

"Another study found a 1 degree C rise in monthly average temperatures over several decades was associated with a 2.1 per cent rise in suicide rates in Mexico and a 0.7 per cent rise in suicide rates in the US. A systematic review of published research using a variety of methodologies from 19 countries found increased risk of suicide associated with a 1 degree C rise in ambient temperature," the report said.

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