As people have learned over the years, mental health is an incredibly important component of our well-being. There seem to be more factors affecting mental health in this day and age, too. According to a recent study by the National Centre for Social Research and the University of York, extreme weather events may be one of these factors.
How Extreme Weather Affects Mental Health
It’s no surprise that people whose homes have been seriously damaged or destroyed by extreme weather can become distraught. However, the study revealed the mental health risks associated with living in a home that has been damaged by extreme weather are very similar to the mental health risks that are associated with those who live in disadvantaged areas. It turns out that even minor storm-related damage can have negative consequences on mental health.
Scientists theorize the increase in mental health risks associated with extreme weather events could very well be due to climate change. Storms are becoming more intense and more frequent. People who continuously experience extreme weather will be more at risk for mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
The study was based on research collected from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, a British national health survey that uses diagnostic criteria to evaluate mental disorders. The survey asked respondents whether their homes had been damaged by rain, snow, wind, or flooding in the six months before the interview. During this period, over 4 million flood warnings had been issued. More than 10,000 homes had flooded.
Researchers considered how other known mental health risks, such as debt, poor physical health, and living in disadvantaged areas, can contribute to respondents’ mental state. But they concluded people whose homes were damaged as a result of extreme weather events were 50 percent more likely to suffer from mental health issues.
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