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Mental Health and Climate Change: A Necessary Relationship To Address

According to the WHO, countries must implement policies to address mental health as a priority in the face of the environmental crisis .

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Photo: Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post | Brandon Martínez Salazar

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Leer en español: Salud mental y cambio climático: una relación necesaria de abordar

Without a doubt, climate change is the most complex challenge that all the countries of the world will have to face in the coming years. In fact, science has been warning about it for decades, because if the advance of global warming is not stopped now, the consequences for society and human well-being will be serious.

Meanwhile, a new report from the World Health Organization points out that it is also essential to see mental health as a priority in the measures that must be implemented for the adaptation of humans in the face of extreme climatic events.

This new statement at Stockholm 50 explains how climate change could affect mental health and well-being in countries.

Mental Health and Climate Change: Policy Brief

The report entitled “Mental health and climate change: policy summary”, designed by the WHO, explains in detail the psychological complexities that this natural phenomenon could entail. However, he warns that it is not only about studying these challenges in mental well-being, it is also necessary to take urgent action to mitigate the impact on people.

"Individuals and communities may experience many intense emotions in the face of a changing climate, including sadness, fear, despair, helplessness and grief," says the WHO.

Also read: What Do Security And Climate Change Have To Do With Each Other?

Likewise, new concepts have been approached from the environmental crisis in which solastalgia, environmental anguish, and ecological mourning stand out. Therefore, for the international organization, it is essential that these approaches are taken seriously since the increase in stress or anxiety can represent a decrease in the effectiveness of the human immune system. Therefore, this would make them vulnerable to air pollution and waterborne diseases.

On the other hand, it informs that the increase in temperature could be related to the high incidence of suicides in different countries.

What are countries doing and what are the WHO recommendations?

For the international organization, there is great concern about this situation in the world. According to a survey carried out in 2021 in 95 countries, it was determined that only 9 have been developing plans on mental health and climate change.

“The impact of climate change is aggravating the already extremely complicated situation in which mental health and mental health services find themselves globally. Almost a billion people live with mental disorders, but in low- and middle-income countries, three out of four people do not have access to the necessary services”, said Dévora Kestel, director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse of The OMS.

For that reason, the WHO has established a series of recommendations such as: integrating climate considerations into mental health programs, integrating support for mental health with climate action, building on global commitments, developing community-based approaches to mitigate vulnerabilities and reducing the significant funding gap that exists for mental health and psychosocial support.

In the same way, he highlighted the Philippines as an example in these policies, because after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, this country improved mental health services after the impact it suffered. Like India, which has developed projects to reduce disaster risks and prepare cities for environmental contingencies, taking people's psychosocial needs as a priority.