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/ Projects and Programs / A Causal Analysis of the Complex Mental Health Impacts of the Climate Crisis in Young People

A Causal Analysis of the Complex Mental Health Impacts of the Climate Crisis in Young People

New research recognizes the role that environmental factors sensitive to climate change and variability (e.g., increasing temperatures, heat waves) may play in the complex pathway linking environmental exposures and negative mental health and well-being outcomes. A recent survey shows 7 out of 10 young people are worried about their future in the context of these planetary changes. Few studies have fully examined climate-mental health on a national level to determine which types or combinations of climate events (extreme heat, hurricanes, extreme heat in the context of a hurricane) are connected to mental health consequences in young people. The overarching goal of this research is to comprehensively examine the sensitivity of mental health impacts to climate disasters in youth, as well as the compounding and cascading effect of concurrent extreme events across the U.S. We will leverage our longstanding partnership with Crisis Text Line (CTL), a global not-for-profit organization that provides free, 24/7, and confidential text-based crisis response service. CTL currently has the largest repository of mental health data in the world and, unlike other data sources, can provide data in real time. We will perform a causal analysis to address the following aims:

  • Aim 1: Examine the local spatiotemporal patterns of help-seeking for mental health in response to three extreme climate events—hurricanes, wildfires, and heatwaves—and how crisis response varies by event type and in the acute and chronic phases.
  • Aim 2: Identify the individual and community-level social and environmental factors that promote mental health resilience in youth impacted by a climate disaster.
  • Aim 3: Compare the compounding effect of concurrent extreme events on longitudinal changes in youth mental health.
February 3, 2022
– January 31, 2025

Project Details

Funded by HHS NIH National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

(External Funding)

Administrative Unit

Research Institute for Environment, Energy, and Economics (RIEEE)

Research Theme

Project Team Members

Dr. Margaret "Maggie" Sugg

Department Honors Director
Associate Professor

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