In my work as a clinical psychologist, I believe that the climate crisis is the greatest mental health crisis we face. I’m pleased to see the progress of SB528 through the Maryland General Assembly. Government action on preserving the environment is crucial for preserving the mental health of our community. (Maryland Senate passes major climate bill, but without key policy cutting fossil fuel dependence)
Twenty percent of people who experience a climate disaster — such a flood, drought or heat wave — develop chronic psychological dysfunction, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, insomnia, depression and anxiety. As the temperature rises, the suicide rate rises, along with symptoms of mental illness, such as depression, stress, or difficulty managing emotions. A Johns Hopkins study found that warming temperatures are correlated with violence and trauma-related admissions to the emergency department.
Many communities are particularly vulnerable to the psychological impacts of climate change: people of color, the elderly, pregnant women, individuals with pre-existing mental disorders and children, to name a few. In a recent study, 45% of young people ages 16-25 reported feeling so anxious or afraid about the future of the environment that it has negatively impacted their daily ability to function. Over 60% of young people feel their government has not done enough about the climate.
While there is no magic recipe to save the planet, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and working toward environmental justice for disproportionately affected communities are central ingredients.
The Maryland General Assembly cannot delay in passing the most progressive climate legislation possible. The mental health of Maryland’s citizens depends on it.
— Jonathan Gorman, Towson
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