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Mitigating Mental Health Impacts of Climate-Related Migration

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As the changing climate continues to become an omnipresent element of life on earth, root causes of human migration will increasingly be attributable to climate-related disaster, climate-related land inhabitability, or climate-related conflict. This inevitability is accompanied by mental health consequences for affected individuals as a result of both forced migration and climate change.

Forced migration presents a number of stressors before, during, and after migration occurs, including but not limited to: exposure to violence or disastrous events, disruption of familial and social ties, uprooting one’s relationship to home, life-threatening conditions throughout the travel process, acculturation risks, and barriers to accessing basic needs once migration has occurred. These stressors can increase the risk of developing mental health conditions, and can exacerbate pre-existing problems. The World Health Organization has found that common mental health disorders, such as generalized anxiety, major depression, psychosis, suicidality, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as other symptoms of distress not necessarily diagnosable by Western psychological models, are more prevalent among forced migrants than host populations.

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