With climate change forcing the temperatures to climb worldwide, what is the toll on our mental health? A study published in PLOS One found that hotter temperatures lead to a higher likelihood of self-reported bad mental health. The research team also found that people are willing to pay a steep price to avoid an additional hot day in terms of its impact on their mental health.
The research team used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an ongoing process of health surveys under the CDC. The team picked mental health self-reports which were part of a questionnaire under different surveys. The questionnaire asked the participants about the state of their mental health in the previous 30 days. This included stress, depression, and difficulties with emotions.
Individuals who self-reported more than a day of bad mental health were considered candidates with mental health difficulties. This data was correlated with temperature and other weather variables. The team found the probability of reports of bad mental health increased on hotter days and decreased when the temperature dropped.
Among people who reported at least one bad mental health day in the preceding month, 35 percent reported frequent mental distress (14 or more days of bad mental health). There is also an economic impact of this the worsening mental health. Respondents were willing to pay $2.6 to $4.6 per day to avoid an additional hot day.