Nav: Home

Heat takes its toll on mental health

March 25, 2020

Hot days increase the probability that an average adult in the U.S. will report bad mental health, according to a study published March 25, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Mengyao Li of the University of Georgia, and colleagues. Moreover, people are willing to pay several dollars to avoid each additional hot day in terms of its impact on self-reported mental health.

As one of the most important factors affected by climate change, human health is now recognized as a global research priority. In particular, mental health has been gaining attention among world leaders in recent years. The promotion of mental health has, for the first time, been included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda under goal number three ("Good Health and Well-being") to be reached by 2030. In a rapidly warming world, temperature increases pose a challenge to achieving that goal. In the new study, Li and colleagues set out to gauge the magnitude of that challenge by quantifying the effect of temperature on self-reported mental health.

The researchers examined the relationship between mental health data and historical daily weather information for more than three million Americans between 1993 and 2010. Compared to the temperature range of 60-70°F, cooler days in the past month reduce the probability of reporting days of bad mental health, whereas hotter days increase this probability. In addition, cooler days have an immediate beneficial effect, whereas hotter days tend to matter most after about 10 consecutive days. The willingness to pay to avoid an additional hot day in the past month ranges from $2.6 to $4.6 per day. According to the authors, future studies should examine how community-level factors mediate the effects of climate change on individual mental health to guide the design of appropriate policies.

The authors add: "We found a positive relationship between hotter temperatures and self-reported mental distress in the United States."
-end-
Citation: Li M, Ferreira S, Smith TA (2020) Temperature and self-reported mental health in the United States. PLoS ONE 15(3): e0230316. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230316

Funding: The authors received no specific funding for this work.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS ONE:http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0230316

PLOS

Related Climate Change Articles:

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.
Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.
Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
Predicting climate change
Thomas Crowther, ETH Zurich identifies long-disappeared forests available for restoration across the world.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Uncharted
There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#555 Coronavirus
It's everywhere, and it felt disingenuous for us here at Science for the People to avoid it, so here is our episode on Coronavirus. It's ok to give this one a skip if this isn't what you want to listen to right now. Check out the links below for other great podcasts mentioned in the intro. Host Rachelle Saunders gets us up to date on what the Coronavirus is, how it spreads, and what we know and don't know with Dr Jason Kindrachuk, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. And...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 1: Numbers
In a recent Radiolab group huddle, with coronavirus unraveling around us, the team found themselves grappling with all the numbers connected to COVID-19. Our new found 6 foot bubbles of personal space. Three percent mortality rate (or 1, or 2, or 4). 7,000 cases (now, much much more). So in the wake of that meeting, we reflect on the onslaught of numbers - what they reveal, and what they hide.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.