studies

Does Climate Change Contribute to Depression, PTSD, and other Mental Health Problems?

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Originally Posted April 4th, 2017

 

The American Psychological Association recently came out with a study suggesting that climate change is bad for our mental wellbeing, and can aid in developing mental illnesses such as depression and PTSD.

 

The study was paired with ecoamerica.org, a company that “builds institutional leadership, public support, and political will for climate solutions in the United States”, as well as with Climate for Health, a “national initiative led by a diverse network of health leaders from across the health sector representing key health care, public health, clinical, and medical institutions and associations”.

 

This isn’t the first time this thought has been addressed, and it won’t be the last time.  “The mental health effects of climate change are gaining public attention,” says the study (page 21). “A 2016 government report (U.S. Global Change Research Program) reviewed a large body of research to summarize the current state of knowledge.”

 

This particular study separates the effects of climate change on mental health into two categories: acute impacts and chronic impacts.

 

The acute impacts are “immediate and severe psychological trauma,” according to the study.  These would be things like how a climate change-induced disaster may immediately create a toll for those who got hurt because of the impacts, who’s loved ones or loved pets got harmed as a result, or even property damage.

 

Because of these immediate impacts, though “for most people, acute symptoms of trauma and shock are reduced after conditions of security have been restored,” illnesses such as PTSD and depression can develop.  For instance, according to the study, one in six people who were affected by Hurricane Katrina (2005) have met the criteria needed to be diagnosed with PTSD.

 

The chronic impacts are sustained impacts such as the relationship between heat and aggression.  “Lab-based experiments and eld-based surveys have demonstrated a causal relationship between heat and aggression,” says the study. “In other words, as the temperature goes up, so does aggression.”

 

The rising heat has also been thought to deteriorate social communities.  Because being outside is uncomfortable in hot, sticky weather, people are more likely to stay indoors to be cool.  The more this happens, the more anti-social the human race as a whole can become.  A lack of social interaction has been shown to contribute to depression.

 

Are There Solutions?

 

Short of just solving negative climate change as a whole, there are some things that can be done.

 

The study suggests that mental health professionals become literate as to what’s going on with climate to better understand the impact it may have on their clients.  Individuals who are not mental health professionals are encouraged to have a safety plan for if and when a major weather disaster happens, and to learn “resilience interventions” (pages 53-55) to help themselves out as much as they possibly can.

 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mariah Loeber is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FemSTEM.com. She studies English and is a huge fan of things STEM.  Find her on Twitter.

 

Teaching Girls That They’re Brilliant Starts With the Parents

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Originally Posted January 30th, 2017

A bit of a depressing study came out claiming that by age six girls didn’t think they were as brilliant as their boy counterparts.  This being said, it’s important to note that this was a small study, conducted in the US, with only 400 children — half of whom were girls.  That being said, it isn’t surprising that it was found to be true that people are negatively affected by stereotypes, and kids, who are especially impressionable, are as well.

 

Personally, I’d like to see a broader study take place, in more places around the US, and in other places around the world.  This is because cultures very drastically, even sub-cultures in the United States vary quite drastically.  That being said, it doesn’t take away from the fact that we don’t have to make this stereotype seem like it’s a reality.  We can teach our girls early on that they can and are brilliant.  But how?  Well, it starts with the parents.

 

EXPOSING YOUR CHILD TO STEM EDUCATION EARLY ON USING THE INTERNET

 

You don’t need to wait until pre-school to engage your child in learning.  This may seem obvious, but how can you do so?  There’s plenty of educational television these days, especially on channels such as PBS.  In fact, PBS has an entire program, website, and outreach program called SciGirls aimed to do just this — exposing girls to STEM and encouraging them to partake.

 

There’s also a few web shows to expose your child to, as well.  The internet is a great place to take advantage of, and offers a lot of free education.

 

Take SciShow Kids, hosted by Jessi Knudsen Castañeda, which will have been running on YouTube for 2 years on February 23rd.  Similarly, Castañeda also hosts Animal Wonders Montana, a YouTube channel dedicated to teaching others about animals and how to take care of them.  There’s also Crash Course Kids, hosted by Sabrina Cruz.

 

Of course, some of the subjects brought up on these channels may be aimed towards 5thgrade kids, but there’s no reason not to start exposing your children to them as soon as possible.  And if they have questions?  It gives you the perfect reason to engage with them on an educational level, and help explain to them something they might not understand right off the bat.

 

ENCOURAGING AND PRAISING YOUR GIRLS

 

A big step in letting girls know that they are brilliant is by telling them that.  Don’t hold back praise when your child figures something out, and encourage them to figure things out on their own when it’s applicable.  Help them out, too.  If your child fails, there’s nothing wrong with giving them a nudge in the right direction.  Failure is a great way to learn, but too much failure may bring about discouragement, and that won’t help the cause in the least bit.

 

And if your child fails?  Encouragement is different than praise in that it can be given without judging the failure or success of a child.  Encouragement focuses on the effort put forth, which means that even if your child may not deserve praise, they can receive kind words that will motivate them to try even harder next time.  Rather than taking the time to focus on the fact that your child failed at something, take the time to thank them or bring out the fact that they tried really hard, and that you’re proud of their efforts.

 

GET INVOLVED IN EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR GIRL’S EDUCATION

 

Parents — get down and get dirty.  Do STEM projects (or art projects or reading projects) with your children.  Don’t leave them to do these things alone.  The only way that your child can really prosper is if you get involved.  Let’s face it — children just don’t have the experience to go about everything on their own.  They need their parents to help guide them, and you can do so.  It takes time and effort, but isn’t it worth helping your girl gain a great self-esteem instead of waiting for them to become discouraged so early on in their schooling careers?

 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mariah Loeber is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FemSTEM.com. She studies English and is a huge fan of things STEM.  Find her on Twitter.