There is increasing evidence that changing global temperatures will bring with it increased rates of mental health issues within our communities. A number of studies, including one from within Australia, suggest that heat waves are associated with increased hospital admissions for mental disorders and physical health issues. The rate of mood disorders and anxiety disorders is likely to increase as climate change progresses, putting additional strain on our mental health budget and health care system.
The psychological impacts of climate change have been established. There is a direct correlation between instances of flooding; hurricanes; severe bushfires and other natural disasters, and increased rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research is also increasing into the levels of despair people are feeling about the impacts of climate change. Loss of hope for the future contributes to increased levels of a range of depressive and anxiety disorders.
Mental health is always affected by social determinants – and climate change will continue to have an effect on the wellbeing of communities and individuals. It is yet another reason why Governments must act with urgency to address climate change.