Climate change and related disasters induce anxiety-related emotions as well as persistent and severe mental health issues in humans. Increased anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders have been related to flooding and prolonged droughts.
Trauma and losses associated with a disaster, such as the loss of a home or employment, as well as being cut off from one’s neighborhood and community, can contribute to sadness and anxiety.
Extreme weather has also been connected to an increase in aggressive conduct and domestic violence.
Climate Change and Mental Health
Nearly half of Pakistan’s population is at risk from the global warming catastrophe. Natural disasters such as floods, droughts, declining rainfall, heat waves, melting glaciers, and rising temperatures have wreaked havoc on Pakistan in the recent decade.
Water resources for hydropower generation may diminish in the next few years. The use of air conditioners tends to grow when the temperature rises in the summer, resulting in increased carbon emissions. The number of people killed by natural disasters has also increased.
According to the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, 128,000 Pakistanis would die from air pollution-related ailments in 2019. High rains and flash floods can cause urban drainage systems to overflow. These calamities have destroyed or damaged hospitals, schools, infrastructure, and people’s livelihoods over the years.
The repercussions of climate change can cause mental health problems and jeopardize the emotional well-being of humans.
Communities in the northern mountains of Pakistan have “inadequate or no alternatives to cope with and decrease the detrimental impacts caused by natural pressures,” according to a study conducted in 2021. The research focused on ten Gilgit-Baltistan districts that have a lengthy history of climate-related dangers. Ghizer was rated as one of the three most endangered cities.
Effects of Climate Change
Children, the elderly, the chronically ill, persons with cognitive or mobility-challenged, pregnant and postpartum women, and people with mental illness are all more sensitive to the potential effects of climate change. People from low-income families, migrants, refugees, and the homeless are all in danger.
Climate change can exacerbate stress and anxiety, putting mental health at risk. Due to a lack of sunlight, people suffer from a variety of mental illnesses such as dementia and seasonal affective disorder, and other climate risks can lead to personality development disorders.
Noise pollution causes insomnia and migraines, and people may lose their ability to make decisions and resolve conflicts. Because of the fog, long evenings, and dry weather, people are more prone to anxiety, depression, and stress throughout the winter.
We must address the mental health and psychological effects of the climate issue right away. Advocacy campaigns with political leaders, government, and civil organizations can be developed by research specialists and psychologists to recognize the causes and answers to this problem. The advocacy campaign could become a part of public health programs.
The Ministry of Climate Change should fund research in this area to advise on techniques of individual and communal resilience across communities for improved mental health and psychological wellness.
The educational sector may step forward to educate the public about it. To grasp the strong link between climate change and health, we need additional health and psychological experts. Climate and health-related arguments are the most powerful and directly felt by all members of society, according to data, and are the most likely to encourage more positive measures to reduce temperatures and carbon levels in the atmosphere.