Analysis of environmental migrants and their mental health in strengthening health systems
Links to Fileshttps://f1000research.com/articles/9-1367
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Type of Work8 pages
journal articles preprints
Citation of Original PublicationHerrán K and Biehler D. Analysis of environmental migrants and their mental health in strengthening health systems, F1000Research 2020, 9:1367, DOI: https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.27272.1
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Background: It is predicted that by 2050 more than 250 million people will have to relocate as a result of climate-related change to their home environment. The existential threat posed by anthropogenic phenomena such as forest fires, floods, sea level rise, drought, and intensified weather events (e.g. tropical storms) has caused a new type of migrant to emerge. Within academic literature, these migrants are referred to as climate migrants, environmental migrants, or eco migrants, among other terms. These individuals’ migration journey and this journey’s impact on their mental health is currently an understudied research area. This paper summarizes the mental health challenges climate migrants face via a narrative review. Methods: Google Scholar was used as the main search database throughout May, 2020 until authors determined data saturation had been reached. Grey literature was also included. Sources were included if they focused directly on evaluating environmental migrants and their mental health experiences. Academic sources must have been peer-reviewed and published within the past 10 years. Information was coded and evaluated according to the three migration journey stages of before, after, and during relocation. Results: Main findings include that the slow or sudden degradation of one’s surroundings can cause the onset of mental health disorders that are later exacerbated by challenges faced when migrating, such as lack of access to health services. Mental health challenges faced upon reaching destination communities consist mainly of social marginalization and disruption of social ties. Lastly, action items for health systems are outlined and the need for more research on the mental wellbeing of climate migrants throughout their migration journey is stressed. Conclusions: This review is an urgent call to policymakers, health professionals, and researchers to strengthen health systems by making them more climate resilient and inclusive towards environmental migrants.
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