There is a difference between direct and indirect effects; recent global research about extreme weather events showed 90 per cent of people experience some kind of psychological response to the impacts of climate change. However, this is more so for people who have been directly impacted.
For these people, like New Zealanders who have been severely impacted, livelihoods or experienced damage to their property by the recent floods, acute stress and grief are to be expected. Longer term effects can include anxiety, depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms, such as nightmares and avoiding places or people associated with the traumatic event. It is important to seek professional support to resolve any ongoing mental health problems.
On a positive note, some people experience Post Traumatic Growth - positive psychological change in response to a traumatic event. While it’s important to recognise feelings of distress, it’s equally important to acknowledge newfound strength and resilience.
For those who watched the effects of the floods unfold on the news or in our communities, but were not directly affected, the sense of threat might not go away once the crisis is over. Eco anxiety can persist and we need strategies to manage it.