As the days get hotter due to climate change, the mental health of people worldwide could get worse, according to a new study published on PLOS ONE.
For each new day above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the probability that people will report mental health difficulties such as depression, stress, and problems with their emotions increases by .3%, the report found.
"We show that people with poorer mental health are particularly affected by temperature. So they would also be particularly vulnerable under climate change," Mengyao Li, the study’s lead researcher, told the US News and World Report.
The report says that people living in poverty will be the most affected by this looming scenario. Financial resources, such as being able to afford air conditioning, will lessen the impact on people during hotter days, Li told the US News and World Report.
Climate change’s impacts on poverty and gender equality have been well documented, but the effect of climate change on mental health has gained increased attention in recent years.
Climate change "takes a significant toll on mental health," the American Psychological Association wrote in 2017, and defined the term eco-anxiety as a "a chronic fear of environmental doom." A study from 2018 found that an increase in monthly temperatures, an increase in warming over a five-year period, and exposure to natural disasters can all negatively impact mental health. Monthly increases in temperature have also been linked to increases in suicide rates.
Schools in New Zealand have even begun adding materials to their curriculum to help students manage their eco-anxiety.
For managing climate change-related mental health problems, options include acknowledging one’s feelings and talking about them, strengthening one’s communities, and taking action, according to Yale Climate Connections.