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Climate change affects mental health of Bangladeshis

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 9 February, 2023 12:00 AM
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Climate change affects mental health of Bangladeshis

Climate change has affected the mental health of people in Bangladesh as a number of people have been suffering from mental health problems both in urban and rural areas, says a study.

Scientists announced the alarming results of the study on Monday that was published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health, reports CNET.

The study looked at how climate change impacts the mental health of people who live in Bangladesh – a country considered one of the most vulnerable to the climate change impacts.

During the study, climate variables at 43 weather stations in Bangladesh were measured to track parameters such as seasonal temperature, humidity and flooding occurrences over two months.

Then 7,000 citizens in both urban and rural areas were surveyed first in August and September 2019, and then again in January and February 2020, to assess how subjects' anxiety and depression changed amid weather fluctuations tied to global warming.

The results revealed that people who experienced higher temperatures (by 1 degree Celsius) during the two months preceding the study had a 21 percent higher probability of having an anxiety disorder and a 24 percent higher probability of having depression.

The study report also suggested that an increase in humidity (specifically, a 1 gram of moisture increase per cubic meter of air) created a six percent higher probability of having both anxiety and depression.

In terms of natural disasters, the study found climate change-induced flooding led to an increased probability of depression by 31 percent, anxiety by 69 percent and both together by a staggering 87 percent.

"We have now established a high-water mark that alas could soon be eclipsed for how climate can impact mental health in a highly vulnerable country. This should serve as a warning for other nations," Syed Shabab Wahid, an assistant professor in the department of global health at Georgetown University's School of Health and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

This study adds to a growing body of research surrounding climate change's impacts on mental health, highlighting once again how this crisis seems to be touching all aspects of our lives.

"As climate change worsens, temperatures and humidity will continue to increase, as will natural disasters, such as extreme flooding, which portends worsening impact on our collective mental health, globally," Syed Shabab Wahid said.

But what's especially concerning for Bangladesh is that things like temperature increases, humidity increases and excessive flooding are all bound to seriously ramp up there as climate change, driven in large part by the burning of fossil fuels, gets harsher.

Already, many coastal areas undergo cyclones twice annually due to the rate at which our planet is heating up – disasters that destroy homes and result in shocking amounts of death.

"Our next steps are twofold. We want to develop and evaluate community-based interventions that are culturally appropriate for Bangladesh, such as offering mental health services to climate-affected communities, of which there are many throughout the country," Wahid said.