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BC crisis will add to eco-anxiety: expert

TORONTO – The crisis in British Columbia will contribute to persistent mental health issues linked to anxiety and depression for some people in response to climate change and related extreme weather events, says Dr. Husein Moloo, director Interim Planetary Health at the University of Ottawa.

“It’s a really tough situation in BC right now, the people of BC have had to deal with… a fire, there has been drought, there have been thermal domes and now flooding – it’s difficult, ”Moloo told CTV News Channel on Saturday.

The terms eco-anxiety, environmental grief, and solastalgia – which mean a feeling of homesickness when the house changes around you – have become more common as climate change has become a priority in global headlines, but the concept mental health being linked to climate change is nothing new.

In 2013, Ashlee Cunsolo, professor at Memorial University, published an article on the Inuit of the community of Rigolet in Labrador, in which people spoke of the sadness they felt at having been cut off from the places they were. had visited for generations due to the disappearance of the pack ice.

A 2019 report prepared by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick was released on climate change affecting the mental health of residents of the province following floods and ice storms.

A 2021 report from the British Medical Journal explored increasing levels of “eco-anxiety” in young people, which they called “significant and potentially damaging.”

“It’s a complicated problem, I think what I would say for people in BC, these kinds of events that they are going through on a regular basis now – which definitely has an effect on mental health, and indirectly, the rest. of us Canadians watching this, ”Moloo said. “We are talking about things now, the nomenclature has become a little generalized in terms of eco-anxiety [and] ecological desperation.

Moloo said the crisis in British Columbia can affect anyone, not just those who are going through it.

“It all affects you, it affects the people around you – no matter what age group you look at,” he said, using the examples of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey in the States. -United. through who had symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder afterwards.

Asked how to address the issue of eco-anxiety and mental health issues related to climate change, Moloo said the answer must come from “all levels” of government and society.

“There are different levels of response here, there is the response from the government, in terms of policy to support especially marginalized people and those of lower socio-economic status who are more vulnerable,” he said. “They are disproportionately affected not only in Canada but around the world by this. ”


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