Megatrends Like Water Stress & Climate Change ‘Impact Mental Health’
Global mental health is being put under increasing pressure from megatrends such as water stress, climate change and urbanisation, with researchers now looking into how water scarcity is likely to affect the mental health of city populations.
Experts from the universities of Nebraska and Washington, and the College of Wooster, revealed in an article for the BMJ that some of the mechanisms contributing to poor mental health include displacement of families to urban areas, stress and insecurity relating to water scarcity, heat-related aggression and violence, and the high mental burden on women to find clean water.
Other issues that can potentially affect mental health include heatwaves, spread of disease, malnutrition, famine and land degradation, as well as reduced air quality. However, other highly correlated stressors linked to urban water insecurity mean it is unlikely that water stress will be identified as a leading cause of mental illness.
To help protect the most vulnerable people in urban settings from stressors that can make mental health issues worse, optimum management is expected to include strategies to manage water insecurity, as well as increased mental health surveillance and service delivery.
Interventions that could benefit mental health was specifically mentioned as being particularly important and limited access to nature and green and blue spaces can put mental health at risk. Maintenance of and access to urban waterways, and management of urban green spaces in both poor and wealthy neighbourhoods is paramount.
“Evaluation and research are crucial to identify vulnerable populations and risks. More research, data collection, and mental health surveys are needed to create larger databases in real time and to identify vulnerable populations and allocate more funding to make these populations more resistant to water insecurity.
“Climate change, urbanisation, and water stress present challenges to livelihoods and services, from mental health surveillance and treatment provision to water sourcing to sanitation, that are already under significant strain,” it was observed.
Water stress and scarcity will affect us here in the UK, as well as the rest of the world, and it’s important that businesses start to become more responsible with their water consumption and usage, in order to help reduce pressure on freshwater supplies.
A great place to begin with reducing your water footprint is to have a site audit carried out across your premises so you can identify and repair any water leaks you may have
Billions of litres of water is lost each day in England through leakage alone and it’s entirely possible that you’re contributing to this without even being aware of it, since the majority of leaks take place hidden away or below ground, making them hard to spot.
But with proper monitoring of your site, you can find these and repair them immediately, helping to protect the planet and saving you money at the same time.