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Storms and flood damage homes and mental health of their owners

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Posted September 9, 2019

Extreme weather events are going to be more and more frequent. Whatever your beliefs about the climate change, that is the undeniable fact – there are more storms, draughts, tornadoes, hurricanes and similar extreme events that there used to be before. And, as this new research, led by the University of York and the National Centre for Social Research, showed, they do have a negative impact on people’s mental health.

Extreme weather events, such as floods, have a negative impact on mental health of residents. Image credit: Dupondt via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

A lot of negativity surrounds the news about extreme weather events and that is understandable. However, people rarely consider the damage done on the smaller scale. Now UK scientists analysed data from a large national mental health survey called the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, paying special attention to people, whose homes were damaged by wind, rain, snow or flood in the six months prior to interview. Because the survey happened in 2014, these six months encompassed several extreme winter storms and extensive flooding in the UK.

Scientists found that people from weather-damaged homes are more likely to experience poor mental health even when the damage is relatively minor. This is very interesting, because you would expect these people to be ok, since they didn’t have to leave their homes. However, they were still about 50% more likely to experience poorer mental health. It is very important to recognize this, because psychological damage is not visible and can be underrated in the face of all the physical damage done to private property and businesses.

The temperature is continuing to rise and we will see many more extreme weather events – it is inevitable. Floods will be more frequent and we have to be prepared for that. In those preparations we have to think about people who will be affected and what kind of impact it is going to have on their mental health.

Professor Hilary Graham, lead author of the study, said: “With extreme weather events on the rise due to climate change, environmental and health policies need to be brought much more closely together. This means recognising that flood protection policies are also health protection policies and that better protecting communities from floods is also an investment in protecting their mental health”.

And what about you? Are you prepared? Do you know what would you do if something unexpected happened? These days you have to have a plan and necessary tools so that you wouldn’t find yourself in despair if a storm comes along.

 

Source: University of York

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