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Why mental health is a priority for action on climate change

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Why mental health is a priority for action on climate change
Why mental health is a priority for action on climate change

The new WHO policy review focuses on action at the national level.

Climate change poses serious risks to mental health and well-being, according to a new WHO policy plan announced today at the Stockholm +50 conference. The organization is therefore calling on countries to include mental health care in their response to the climate crisis, citing examples of how some pioneering countries have done so effectively.

The findings are consistent with a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in February this year. The IPPC has identified that rapid climate change is a growing threat to mental health and psychosocial well-being. From emotional stress to anxiety, depression, sadness and suicidal behavior.

“The impacts of climate change are becoming more and more a part of our daily lives, and there is little mental health support for people and communities facing climate and long-term risks,” Dr. Maria Neira, Department Director. , said. .. WHO Environment, climate change, health.

The effects of climate change on mental health are unevenly distributed, with some groups not balanced across factors such as socioeconomic status, gender and age. However, it is clear that climate change is affecting many of the social determinants that are already placing a heavy burden on mental health around the world. To date, only nine countries have included mental health and psychosocial support in their national health and climate change plans, according to a 2021 WHO survey of 95 countries.

“The effects of climate change are exacerbating a situation that is already very difficult for mental health and mental health services around the world. About a billion people live with mental health problems. In low- and middle-income countries, three out of four people suffer from them. do not have access to the services they need,” said Devora Kestel, Director of the WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse… “By strengthening mental health and psychosocial support for disaster risk reduction and climate change, countries can do more to protect people most at risk.”

A new WHO policy review recommends five key approaches for governments to address the impact of climate change on mental health.

Integrate climate considerations with mental health programs.
Integrate mental health support with climate action.
Based on global efforts.
Develop a community-based approach to mitigate vulnerabilities. D
This closes the huge financial gap that exists for mental health and psychosocial support.
“WHO Member States have made it very clear that mental health is their priority. We are working closely with every country to protect people’s physical and mental health from climate threats,” said Dr Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, WHO climate chief and lead author of the study. IPCC.

There are some good examples of how to do this, such as the Philippines, which rebuilt and modernized its mental health services in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, and India, where national projects scaled up disaster risk reduction. domesticated. In preparing the city to respond to climate risks and address mental and psychosocial needs.

The Stockholm Conference marks the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and recognizes the importance of environmental determinants for physical and mental health.

Attention editors

The WHO defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which people realize their potential, cope with the stresses of life, perform productive and fruitful work, and contribute to society.”

The WHO describes mental health and psychological support (MHPSS) as “local or external, of all types, aimed at protecting or enhancing psychosocial well-being and/or preventing or treating mental disorders. It is defined as “support”.

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