On July 11, Susan Clayton, Whitmore-Williams Professor of psychology at The College of Wooster, appeared in an ABC News segment to discuss the negative impacts of climate change on mental health. “Climate change can affect mental health by just increasing people’s stress and worry about the issue, the more they hear about,” she said. “I think a lot of people are not really aware this is a problem.” Featured in both a video and online article, “Climate Change Also Has a Mental Health Toll” by Cristina Carujo, Clayton was quoted for her expertise on both environmental and psychological subjects.
The segment also included narratives from survivors of California wildfires and Hurricane Katrina. “Post-traumatic stress disorder can be quite common because it is traumatic to live through one of these events,” Clayton explained. The combination of natural disasters and rising temperatures with socioeconomic stresses can lead to this mental toll. “Climate change gas been described as an existential threat, something that really challenges the way we think about the world,” Clayton said. “And I think it has the potential to erode our sense of security.
As drastic weather patterns become more common, Clayton emphasized the importance of seeking psychological treatment. “As a global society, there’s still a lot of stigma around mental health problems, but there are things that can help you with this,” she advised. “I think it would help people cope.”