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As the climate warms, extreme weather is expected to become more common. This poses a threat to our physical safety. But it can also take a toll on our mental health.

Clayton: “After you’ve been through something like a hurricane or a flood, there’s increased rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders.”

That’s Susan Clayton, a professor of psychology at the College of Wooster in Ohio. She says when people are forced to leave home, they often feel lost.

Clayton: “The place we live in is very significant to us, to our sense of security, so losing that place is a source of stress.”

Those who remain may also find their support systems weakened as community tensions run high after a natural disaster.

But Clayton says there are ways to prepare for threats to mental health. She recommends communities assess their vulnerabilities.

Clayton: “Not everybody in the community will be equally affected. They don’t all have equivalent resources to help them deal with these problems. So think about not just the generalized impact of climate change, but also how more vulnerable members of the community might be affected, and ways to have a community plan that incorporates all members of the community.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

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