James D. Ford is with the Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec. Ashlee Cunsolo Willox is with the Department of Community Health, Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia. Susan Chatwood is with the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Christopher Furgal is with the Department of Indigenous Environmental Studies, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario. Sherilee Harper is with the Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Ontario. Ian Mauro is with the Department of Geography, University of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Tristan Pearce is with the University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydor, Queensland, Australia.
Climate change will have far-reaching implications for Inuit health. Focusing on adaptation offers a proactive approach for managing climate-related health risks-one that views Inuit populations as active agents in planning and responding at household, community, and regional levels. Adaptation can direct attention to the root causes of climate vulnerability and emphasize the importance of traditional knowledge regarding environmental change and adaptive strategies. An evidence base on adaptation options and processes for Inuit regions is currently lacking, however, thus constraining climate policy development. In this article, we tackled this deficit, drawing upon our understanding of the determinants of health vulnerability to climate change in Canada to propose key considerations for adaptation decision-making in an Inuit context.
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Climate change is increasingly recognized as one of the greatest threats to human health of the 21st century, with consequences that mental health professionals are also likely to face. While physical health impacts have been increasingly emphasized in literature and practice, recent scholarly literature indicates that climate change and related weather events and environmental changes can profoundly impact psychological well-being and mental health through both direct and indirect pathways, particularly among those with pre-existing vulnerabilities or those living in ecologically sensitive areas. Although knowledge is still limited about the connections between climate change and mental health, evidence is indicating that impacts may be felt at both the individual and community levels, with mental health outcomes ranging from psychological distress, depression and anxiety, to increased addictions and suicide rates. Drawing on examples from diverse geographical areas, this article highlights some climate-sensitive impacts that may be encountered by mental health professionals. We then suggest potential avenues for public mental health in light of current and projected changes, in order to stimulate thought, debate, and action.
This exploratory study used participatory methods to identify, characterize, and rank climate-sensitive health priorities in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, Canada.
A mixed method study design was used and involved collecting both qualitative and quantitative data at regional, community, and individual levels. In-depth interviews with regional health representatives were conducted throughout Nunatsiavut (n?=?11). In addition, three PhotoVoice workshops were held with Rigolet community members (n?=?11), where participants took photos of areas, items, or concepts that expressed how climate change is impacting their health. The workshop groups shared their photographs, discussed the stories and messages behind them, and then grouped photos into re-occurring themes. Two community surveys were administered in Rigolet to capture data on observed climatic and environmental changes in the area, and perceived impacts on health, wellbeing, and lifestyles (n?=?187).
Climate-sensitive health pathways were described in terms of inter-relationships between environmental and social determinants of Inuit health. The climate-sensitive health priorities for the region included food security, water security, mental health and wellbeing, new hazards and safety concerns, and health services and delivery.
The results highlight several climate-sensitive health priorities that are specific to the Nunatsiavut region, and suggest approaching health research and adaptation planning from an EcoHealth perspective.
Community-based adaptation (CBA) has emerged over the last decade as an approach to empowering communities to plan for and cope with the impacts of climate change. While such approaches have been widely advocated, few have critically examined the tensions and challenges that CBA brings. Responding to this gap, this article critically examines the use of CBA approaches with Inuit communities in Canada. We suggest that CBA holds significant promise to make adaptation research more democratic and responsive to local needs, providing a basis for developing locally appropriate adaptations based on local/indigenous and Western knowledge. Yet, we argue that CBA is not a panacea, and its common portrayal as such obscures its limitations, nuances, and challenges. Indeed, if uncritically adopted, CBA can potentially lead to maladaptation, may be inappropriate in some instances, can legitimize outside intervention and control, and may further marginalize communities. We identify responsibilities for researchers engaging in CBA work to manage these challenges, emphasizing the centrality of how knowledge is generated, the need for project flexibility and openness to change, and the importance of ensuring partnerships between researchers and communities are transparent. Researchers also need to be realistic about what CBA can achieve, and should not assume that research has a positive role to play in community adaptation just because it utilizes participatory approaches. WIREs Clim Change 2016, 7:175-191. doi: 10.1002/wcc.376 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
As climate change impacts are felt around the globe, people are increasingly exposed to changes in weather patterns, wildlife and vegetation, and water and food quality, access and availability in their local regions. These changes can impact human health and well-being in a variety of ways: increased risk of foodborne and waterborne diseases; increased frequency and distribution of vector-borne disease; increased mortality and injury due to extreme weather events and heat waves; increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease due to changes in air quality and increased allergens in the air; and increased susceptibility to mental and emotional health challenges. While climate change is a global phenomenon, the impacts are experienced most acutely in place; as such, a sense of place, place-attachment, and place-based identities are important indicators for climate-related health and adaptation. Representing one of the first qualitative case studies to examine the connections among climate change, a changing sense of place, and health in an Inuit context, this research draws data from a multi-year community-driven case study situated in the Inuit community of Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, Canada. Data informing this paper were drawn from the narrative analysis of 72 in-depth interviews conducted from November 2009 to October 2010, as well as from the descriptive analysis of 112 questionnaires from a survey in October 2010 (95% response rate). The findings illustrated that climate change is negatively affecting feelings of place attachment by disrupting hunting, fishing, foraging, trapping, and traveling, and changing local landscapes-changes which subsequently impact physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. These results also highlight the need to develop context-specific climate-health planning and adaptation programs, and call for an understanding of place-attachment as a vital indicator of health and well-being and for climate change to be framed as an important determinant of health.
The Canadian Arctic is experiencing rapid changes in climatic conditions, with implications for Inuit communities widely documented. Youth have been identified as an at-risk population, with likely impacts on mental health and well-being. This study identifies and characterizes youth-specific protective factors that enhance well-being in light of a rapidly changing climate, and examines how climatic and environmental change challenges these. In-depth conversational interviews were conducted with youth aged 15-25 from the five communities of the Nunatsiavut region of Labrador, Canada: Nain, Hopedale, Postville, Makkovik, and Rigolet. Five key protective factors were identified as enhancing their mental health and well-being: being on the land; connecting to Inuit culture; strong communities; relationships with family and friends; and staying busy. Changing sea ice and weather conditions were widely reported to be compromising these protective factors by reducing access to the land, and increasing the danger of land-based activities. This study contributes to existing work on Northern climate change adaptation by identifying factors that enhance youth resilience and, if incorporated into adaptation strategies, may contribute to creating successful and effective adaptation responses.
To review the protective factors and causal mechanisms which promote and enhance Indigenous youth mental health in the Circumpolar North.
A systematic literature review of peer-reviewed English-language research was conducted to systematically examine the protective factors and causal mechanisms which promote and enhance Indigenous youth mental health in the Circumpolar North.
This review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, with elements of a realist review. From 160 records identified in the initial search of 3 databases, 15 met the inclusion criteria and were retained for full review. Data were extracted using a codebook to organize and synthesize relevant information from the articles.
More than 40 protective factors at the individual, family, and community levels were identified as enhancing Indigenous youth mental health. These included practicing and holding traditional knowledge and skills, the desire to be useful and to contribute meaningfully to one's community, having positive role models, and believing in one's self. Broadly, protective factors at the family and community levels were identified as positively creating and impacting one's social environment, which interacts with factors at the individual level to enhance resilience. An emphasis on the roles of cultural and land-based activities, history, and language, as well as on the importance of social and family supports, also emerged throughout the literature. More than 40 protective factors at the individual, family, and community levels were identified as enhancing Indigenous youth mental health. These included practicing and holding traditional knowledge and skills, the desire to be useful and to contribute meaningfully to one's community, having positive role models, and believing in one's self. Broadly, protective factors at the family and community levels were identified as positively creating and impacting one's social environment, which interacts with factors at the individual level to enhance resilience. An emphasis on the roles of cultural and land-based activities, history, and language, as well as on the importance of social and family supports, also emerged throughout the literature.
Healthy communities and families foster and support youth who are resilient to mental health challenges and able to adapt and cope with multiple stressors, be they social, economic, or environmental. Creating opportunities and environments where youth can successfully navigate challenges and enhance their resilience can in turn contribute to fostering healthy Circumpolar communities. Looking at the role of new social media in the way youth communicate and interact is one way of understanding how to create such opportunities. Youth perspectives of mental health programmes are crucial to developing appropriate mental health support and meaningful engagement of youth can inform locally appropriate and culturally relevant mental health resources, programmes and community resilience strategies.
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