Vancouver, BC – The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC (Crisis Centre of BC) expresses deep concern about the findings of the IPCC Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report regarding the effects of climate change on mental health.
As a member of the BC Crisis Line Network that serves people across British Columbia, we know that climate change is already having a profound impact on the mental health and well-being of British Columbians.
According to the report, climate change exacerbates pre-existing mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable populations, who are already at a greater risk of experiencing mental health problems, including Indigenous peoples, people with a low-income, and those living in rural or remote places. Climate change also leads to an increase in the incidence of extreme weather events, natural disasters, and displacement, which can cause significant psychological distress, trauma, and grief.
“The IPCC report makes it clear that the effects of climate change on mental health are significant and cannot be ignored,” states Stacy Ashton, executive director of the Crisis Centre of BC. “We need to recognize that mental health is an essential part of our response to the climate crisis, and we must prioritize it in our actions and policies.”
Everyone needs to keep their mental health as a priority during climate change emergencies. Here are some tips to help cope:
- Connect with others: Reach out to friends, family, and community members for support. Sharing your concerns and feelings can help alleviate stress and anxiety.
- Practice self-care: Take care of your physical health by getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating healthy food. Engage in activities that bring you joy, such as reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature.
- Limit exposure to distressing news: While it’s important to stay informed about climate change, exposure to constant distressing news can be overwhelming and lead to feelings of hopelessness and anxiety. Limit your exposure to news and social media and take breaks when needed.
- Seek professional help: If you are experiencing significant distress or mental health problems, contact a mental health professional or crisis center for support.
- Take action: Addressing climate change can give you a sense of purpose and control, which can be empowering and make a positive impact on your mental well-being.
The Crisis Centre of BC is committed to supporting people in need of support during times of crisis. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please reach out:
- Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789 (no area code required)
- Anywhere in BC 1800SUICIDE: 1-800-784-2433
Jeffrey Preiss, Director, Communications & Development
Stacy Ashton, Executive Director