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Greenpiece: The mind matters in climate crisis

No matter how much change we plan, nobody can be prepared for the new era we are in.
A man wades into the ocean at sunset,(AP file for representation)
Published on Dec 13, 2021 06:38 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

When Amphan struck eastern India, our collective feeling was that, as a country, we had really improved our disaster management. Two decades ago, thousands would have died. This time, it was 128. This is true, it is a huge victory. But when I watched videos of the hurricane at Kentucky, videos and comments put focus on the utter terror, the sheer enormity of the event.

What struck me in both cases was the intense trauma. For those who lose everything, mental health is one crisis they often face next. There is increasing acknowledgement of the anxiety such catastrophes cause among mere observers.

As we see terrifying images of climate nightmares like starving polar bears and forest fires, we are often scarred deeper than we realise. Climate conversations have helped many to understand that this could be our near future too. For these reasons, many others suffer unaddressed anxieties. But we cannot ignore this emerging parallel crisis.

No easy answers exist. At the best of times, access to mental health is difficult. But it is vital to start addressing this issue in ways that make Indians resilient. Three levels of mental health interventions are obvious: addressing mental and emotional resilience at school, publicly en masse as a campaign per se and focussed after the event. No matter how much change we plan, nobody can be automatically prepared for the new era we are in. But prepare we must, if we are to stay on our growth path. Mental health must be a part of our plan to fight climate change.

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