American Journal of Environmental Sciences

A Critical Review of Climate Change Induced Psychosocial Impacts and Options for Strengthening Social Support Systems

Parnali Dhar Chowdhury, C. Emdad Haque and Graham Smith

DOI : 10.3844/ajessp.2011.316.330

American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Volume 7, Issue 4

Pages 316-330


Problem statement: Climate change and its associated manifestations have only recently emerged as significant threats to health faced by Canadians. The emergence of these threats has meant that Canadians are faced with increasing health-related concerns that are more frequent, more severe and occurring in communities where they have not been previously experienced. The compounding effects of change in weather patterns in communities that are heavily dependent on natural conditions for their agronomical performance could be quite severe on the mental health of farmers and other rural dwellers. Approach: Existing literature was identified for their critical review through a comprehensive serach by using web-based publications, data-base and other archival sources. Specific relevant studies were then analysed with directions for addressing the emerging psychosocial problems. An emphasis was given to the shifting nature of treament from hospital-based supports to community-based social supports. Results: In perspective of recent developments in Canada, the study offers a critical assessment of psychosocial aspects of climate change-induced extreme environmental events. In recent decades, community-based approaches and other micro-level social action interventions have gained acceptance by the concerned institutions. However, institutional supports to enhance commuity level capacity are still meager. As to identify appropriate tools, lessons for improving present systems can be drawn from the Community Emergency Response Volunteer (CERV) programs. Such tools can enhance psychosocial coping abilities through strengthening social support and enhancing the community coping capacity. Conclusion: Psychosocial effects of climate change-induced stress should be addressed from the perspective of ‘model of prevention’ rathern than the prevailing ‘model of treatment’. Instituional changes are required to enhance the required social ties and community capacity to mitigate and cope with the psychosocial stress that disasters cause.


© 2011 Parnali Dhar Chowdhury, C. Emdad Haque and Graham Smith. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.