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When climate change impacts Indigenous identities, mental health suffers

A Health Podyssey

When climate change impacts Indigenous identities, mental health suffers

Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Alan Weil interviews Shasta Gaughen, director of the Pala Environmental Department for the Pala Band of Mission Indians, on how climate change is affecting the culture and…
December 8, 2020
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When climate change impacts Indigenous identities, mental health suffers

How are Indigenous communities responding to climate change?
It’s an important but often under-looked question. As a new paper published in the climate-centric December edition of Health Affairs posits, Indigenous communities are uniquely vulnerable as climate-related events can impact their day-to-day lives, self-determination, and physical and emotional health.
In 2016, the Pala Band of Mission Indians tribe, who are located in southern California, conducted a vulnerability assessment regarding the effects of climate change. High temperatures, wildfires, storm flooding and drought were all identified as major concerns.
And yet, the assessment revealed few participants were aware of many of the potential health consequences at the individual and community levels as a result of these threats.
Indigenous communities have a history of adapting to their environment but some impacts from climate change for these communities are unexpected.
In this week’s episode of A Health Podyssey, Alan Weil interviews Shasta Gaughen, director of the Pala Environmental Department for the Pala Band of Mission Indians, to discuss her recent paper and these unintended consequences of climate change as it relates to physical, mental, and cultural health for Indigenous communities.
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