Floods, wildfires, famines, droughts, species extinction: climate-change-induced disasters are inflicting a heavy toll not only on the environment but also on our mental health, according to a recent report released by the American Psychological Association (APA) entitled “Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance.”
The APA’s report concludes that direct experience with a natural disaster, such as loss of property or personal physical harm, can have immediate and acute consequences on our mental health, including trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression. After Hurricane Katrina, for example, studies found that suicide and suicidal ideation more than doubled in people living in areas affected by the hurricane, and one in six met the criteria for PTSD. Psychologists are calling this type of mental illness ‘ecoanxiety.’
There are also significant long-term effects on mental health. The “unrelenting day-to-day despair” can erode mental health causing chronic psychological consequences. “Gradual, long-term changes in climate can also surface a number of different emotions, including fear, anger, feelings of powerlessness, or exhaustion,” the APA writes. Ecoanxiety can also impact our physical health. Research has shown that chronic stress can lower one’s immune system, causing one to be susceptible to illness and disease.
Although dealing successfully with mental health issues in the workplace is largely dependent on having a positive internal corporate culture, good people management, and wellness programs for employees — there is also a role for corporate real estate professionals. … Read More