finding 8.2 : specific-groups-people-higher-risk

Specific groups of people are at higher risk for distress and other adverse mental health consequences from exposure to climate-related or weather-related disasters. These groups include children, the elderly, women (especially pregnant and post-partum women), people with preexisting mental illness, the economically disadvantaged, the homeless, and first responders [High Confidence]. Communities that rely on the natural environment for sustenance and livelihood, as well as populations living in areas most susceptible to specific climate change events, are at increased risk for adverse mental health outcomes [High Confidence].

This finding is from chapter 8 of The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment.

Process for developing key messages: The chapter was developed through technical discussions of relevant evidence and expert deliberation by the report authors at several workshops, teleconferences, and email exchanges. The authors considered inputs and comments submitted by the public, the National Academies of Sciences, and Federal agencies. For additional information on the overall report process, see Appendices 23.

Areas of focus for the Mental Health and Well-Being chapter were determined based on the most relevant available scientific literature relating to mental health, wellness, and climate change, as well as the mental health impacts of events associated with climate change. Much of the evidence on these impacts has been compiled in countries outside the United States; however, the scenarios are similar and the evidence directly relevant to the situation in the United States, and thus this literature has been considered in the chapter. The evidence-base on mental health and wellness following extreme weather disasters is both well-established and relevant to climate change. The existence of highly relevant scientific literature on specific concerns directly influenced by climate change—such as the effects of extreme heat, stress associated with the threat and perception of climate change, and special population risks—resulted in the inclusion of these more targeted topics. Although significant scientific literature for resilience exists, in-depth discussions of adaptation, coping, and treatment approaches are outside the scope of this chapter, but are discussed in brief in the Resilience and Recovery section.

Description of evidence base: Multiple studies have identified specific populations within the United States that are particularly vulnerable to the mental health impacts of climate change events.34647534-8863-4fde-b8d0-f24bcdc4fcc6 9467cf71-753b-49a7-891b-04da863e71ad 67687fbe-a13c-48f9-99a3-158b1dae0fff abe2ce03-59c1-461d-8801-3e12df93a8e1 30024cab-09f2-4778-86b0-e848ccf603c7 faadfa3a-2035-4c63-99e1-642f0c1d4e4e Some evidence suggests that children are at particular risk for distress, anxiety, and PTSD.36e4a94f-8c92-4eab-be3d-4521b7770716 800172f5-06ce-47cd-8e88-2860961c2c40 db242424-f22c-4d81-943d-7e1f583bc866 Highly cited studies of the elderly show that high rates of physical and mental health disorders leave them more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.c3776534-f010-44e8-ae2f-6d069cfaba37 30024cab-09f2-4778-86b0-e848ccf603c7 d025518a-8085-4ef9-ba42-c0ac239d98f1 88885fc4-a6c8-454f-881d-51a8e2739bb5 A large body of post-disaster studies shows that women often have a higher prevalence of PTSD9c789c49-b1dd-4ed8-ac02-5942fb6674de and other adverse psychological outcomes. f66b946f-c672-4a4b-8f71-1b05738e029e de2250cc-0ffe-40c6-b7f7-5de37d4b4131 9845a991-d58b-409b-91b9-670cc383d030 871e1113-59cb-4f06-a415-284137b17c51 36e4a94f-8c92-4eab-be3d-4521b7770716 66c76115-365d-4a76-9087-cf38d6afdc2e e52c6b87-47d7-47dc-9018-f78cad2a35af 12114eeb-754e-46a7-92af-abce1e9d23cf 5f6029f9-9de1-4d32-b772-cf836ac4e048 Research strongly suggests that people who currently suffer from psychological disorders will face additional challenges from climate change impacts.922bcd50-dd07-4e05-afc7-fe3bcb1a953a 1e9a7907-02f2-4da8-9e93-131f92515dbc 2a9775ae-a280-4260-985f-0e66d0ef8c11 987707c1-8e54-41d8-8555-c5e1d4bcc661 17cd07d1-5250-4980-8b98-689b4caf0bb1 Strong evidence suggests that people living in poverty disproportionately experience the most negative impacts,abe2ce03-59c1-461d-8801-3e12df93a8e1 faadfa3a-2035-4c63-99e1-642f0c1d4e4e in part because they have less capacity to evacuate to avoid natural disasters, and because they are more frequently exposed to harmful environmental conditions such as heat waves and poor air quality.8dd99031-877d-4006-96c8-0890df6d1d8c Similarly, the majority (91%) of homeless populations live in urban and suburban areas, where they are more vulnerable to certain weather- and climate-related health risks.6a74b0ff-705b-433e-8b26-59b7284cca88

A number of studies of disaster responders point to an increased risk of mental and physical health problems following climate-related disasters.eb4e88e8-fdd1-492f-94a0-a8af7ffc598e c1170f20-6345-4a49-b0fd-455bbd1c3264 12326139-d074-4882-9ac6-555855b08a51 ce9790d9-36c1-483d-a5c8-e8f21bf4e07d More frequent and intense weather events will increase the likelihood of this threat.895a462d-2faa-44e3-a888-31efb349f44d ca705054-749f-4c0a-b184-9d14fbbf79e9 76c677ab-1bce-4095-adbe-90322f33d6af

Several studies show that those living in drought-prone areas are vulnerable to high levels of distress.67687fbe-a13c-48f9-99a3-158b1dae0fff 6cd7a528-3fc0-4e91-bec3-86e4eeee0cdb 61272d35-f059-4d3f-bc66-8556455ebd87 In addition, evidence suggests those living in Arctic or other coastal areas, such as Indigenous communities or tribes, tend to be more reliant on natural resources that could be diminished by climate change, which can lead to an increased risk of poor mental health outcomes.a6856e1f-e371-40f1-83d0-bce369e2289f 42269c56-1785-48ec-a81b-6eeb784de417 e46294e5-1bf3-4384-af37-7739b0a8f693 905ad03b-729c-447b-b894-c4ce8f9fec30 ef2b1084-10a4-475b-aeff-6093f8000e17 0a222ad6-2bcb-4fdc-91c8-de37bb70b04f

New information and remaining uncertainties: While there is uncertainty around the magnitude of effect, there is general agreement that climate-related disasters cause emotional and behavioral responses that will increase the likelihood of a mental illness or effect. Understanding how exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity change over time and location for specific populations of concern is challenging. Uncertainties remain with respect to the underlying social determinants of health, public health interventions or outreach, adaptation options, and climate impacts at fine local scales.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence: The combined breadth and strength of the scientific literature supports high confidence that certain vulnerable populations will face psychological tolls in the aftermath of climate-related disasters. An increase in adverse climate-related events will result in increased exposure of such populations of concern and an increased likelihood of elevated risk for mental health consequences. There is also high confidence that natural-resource-dependent communities and populations living in areas most susceptible to specific climate change events are at increased risk for adverse mental health outcomes.

References :

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