While the response to climate change impacts tends to focus on damaged crops and livestock, there is little attention given to the mental status of people whose have incurred the losses.
Climate change is now contributing to the prevalence of mental disorders among farmers.
According to African Coalition of Communities Responsive to Climate Change (ACCRCC) and the Kenya Red Cross Society losses and damages due to climate change impacts such as floods and droughts have caused rising cases of depression among farmers.
We are seeing farmers and pastoralists fall into serious depression as a result of losing investments in farming activities and livestock keeping due to drought and floodsACCRCC Executive Director Dr Rosalid Nkirote.
“We are seeing farmers and pastoralists fall into serious depression as a result of losing investments in farming activities and livestock keeping due to drought and floods,” said ACCRCC Executive Director Dr Rosalid Nkirote.
According to World Health Organisation, around 10% of the population in Africa has a
mental illness, which is similar to the global average.
Only one mental health worker per 100,000 people exists in Africa, compared to a global average of nine per 100,000 people.
Additionally, most people in rural Africa take at least an hour’s walk to a health facility, which could limit access to life-saving interventions, particularly in areas with no road network and limited vehicular transport.
According to Zachary Misiani, from the Kenya Red Cross Society, climate change is a significant and emerging threat to public health that may worsen as the planet warms.
Misiani further noted that developing drought-resistant crops and implementing early warning systems for disasters, mental health infrastructure is needed, particularly in rural and pastoral areas.
The background vulnerabilities that create the conditions for increasing the risk of mental illness can be directly or indirectly influenced by climate changeReagan Nyango
Reagan Nyango, a mental health expert from Uganda, the relationship between climate change and mental health is complex, to some extent not so direct.
In recent years climate change has become a social, economic, environmental, and political
challenge facing humankind both at local, regional, and global levels.
“The background vulnerabilities that create the conditions for increasing the risk of mental illness can be directly or indirectly influenced by climate change,” he said.
Scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warn that climate change could affect livelihoods, resource management, health, and productivity, leading to food insecurity, rising conflicts, increasing poverty, and creating internal displacement of populations.