Research psychologists from King's College London emphasize the need for workplace support in addressing the psychological impacts of climate change and extreme weather, often referred to as 'eco-anxiety.'
Their review of existing studies reveals that climate-induced mental ill-health can have negative consequences for the workplace if employees are not adequately supported. Previous research indicates that climate-related disasters can increase the risk of various mental health issues, while the gradual effects of climate change, such as meteorological changes, can lead to stress, psychological disorders, sleep problems, fatigue, and suicide.
The reviewed studies highlight the challenges faced by workers with eco-anxiety. Australian environmental workers experiencing anxiety about climate change showed an overcommitment to work, work-life balance struggles, and a sense of isolation. New Zealand farmers, burdened with stress about extreme weather, faced difficulties in prompt decision-making, critical in the agriculture sector. However, a study involving over 1,000 workers revealed that having high levels of personal coping abilities and workplace support neutralized the adverse effects of hurricane-induced job stress and led to increased job satisfaction.
The researchers stress the urgent need for understanding how to best support employees affected by climate change. They suggest that occupational health providers should be equipped to recognize and mitigate climate change-related health effects, including mental health issues. Organizations can benefit from providing appropriate training to cope with extreme events, prioritizing employee mental health support, and fostering resilience. Further research is essential to explore the relationship between climate-induced mental ill health and work outcomes, as well as to develop strategies to minimize negative impacts.
Occupational Medicine article here