Southern coastal poverty hit everyone who lived in its path as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The Florida Panhandle is a place of immense beauty with beaches and sunshine. It is a haven for people who want to retire or live a life on the coastal bay. This was disrupted by what some people believe is a sign of things to come regarding climate change. Mental and physical health is impacted by climate change on big and small levels. Find out why it impacts mental health and how to address this in your life.
Climate Change and Hurricanes
The ferocity of hurricanes is attributed to climate change. A few days before Hurricane Michael touched down, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that predicts a dire situation, with increased poverty a real possibility for the future. People in the Panhandle have already seen it happen to themselves and their loved ones. These kinds of service and medication disruptions impact people in ways that are harmful to treatment outcomes. Even if they did not struggle with mental health before, it is harder to access services for existing mental health conditions, addiction, recovery, or other issues that may arise.
Poverty of Climate Change
The mental health challenges people face in the wake of tragedy like Hurricane Katrina can contribute to an increase of people struggling with addiction and mental health issues years down the road. When survivors need community support, it may be lacking due to lack of infrastructure and people may have left to find housing or work in other states. Even the government is noticing the impact of climate change on people’s socioeconomic status and ability to care for themselves. An increased risk of mental health issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, unrecognized or untreated grief after loss, and anxiety can all increase along with depression when climate change hits home. Hurricanes, fires, and other issues which impact people’s livelihoods are all becoming a larger, global issue of addressing mental health issues that are popping up more and more each year.
Years later, people and communities may continue to struggle with problems generated in times of crisis like hurricanes and fires. Housing and job insecurity are mental health stressors. Mental health services and addiction treatment need prioritization in the context of climate change. Communities need alternatives to homelessness and jail for people who experience mental health problems due to devastating weather events.
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