‘Hidden impacts’ of climate crisis revealed in UCC-led study

It has been described as the first global collation and empiric integration of mental health and well-being data exclusively from populations exposed to extreme weather events.
‘Hidden impacts’ of climate crisis revealed in UCC-led study

Damage caused by Hurricane Laura in Louisiana. A UCC study has shed light on the psychological impact of extreme weather events.

A UCC-led study has shed light on the psychological impact of extreme weather events among exposed populations.

The research reveals that those affected are around 90% more likely to experience mental health issues.

It has been described as the first global collation and empiric integration of mental health and well-being data exclusively from populations exposed to extreme weather events.

Findings from the study suggest that females and minorities, in particular, face a higher risk of psychological impairment.

The study supports calls for public health intervention strategies aimed at mitigating the psychological impacts of extreme weather.

Researchers involved worked to identify previous studies associated with the subject to aid their studies.

A total of 59 reviews published over a 20-year period were identified, comprising of psychological impairment data from 61,443 people exposed to extreme weather events.

A majority were assessed for PTSD (77.4%), followed by depression (40.3%), and anxiety (23.4%).

More than half of the investigations originated from North America, with the remainder primarily based in Asia.

Females were found to be at a higher risk, often regardless of income, but mainly due to cultural, socio-economic, and physiological factors.

These included stress and the burden associated with being a traditional caregiver.

The likelihood of experiencing post-disaster violence was also a factor.

In low-income regions, a combination of aggravating factors included high poverty levels, increased exposure to extreme weather, and restricted access to “recovery” resources.

Lead author of the study, Dr Jean O’Dwyer of UCC’s School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science and Environmental Research Institute, said the research has significance for many people, regardless of location.

“This research highlights the somewhat hidden impacts of the climate crisis and emphasises that this global challenge comes with very local and personal consequences,” she said.

“Whether you’re in Ireland or Indonesia, if an extreme weather event threatens your home, your livelihood, or your physical health, it will almost certainly impact your mental health too.”

The project was funded under the EPA Research Programme 2021-2030.

The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative, funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.

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