With major cities in the United States still reeling from climate change, the threat to our health and safety is more apparent than ever before. There is a potential link between extreme heat and our mental health. Heat has serious consequences for our mental health, potentially leading to more emergency room visits, a higher risk of death, and decreased emotional well-being. Let’s look at some things that may contribute to heat exhaustion in those with a mental illness.
How Medication Can Play a Role
It is well understood that mental illness can significantly impact physical health. What is less clear is how certain medications used to treat mental illness can aggravate pre-existing health conditions or cause new ones. Many medications make it more difficult for the body to regulate its temperature, which can be dangerous for people already susceptible to overheating. In hot weather, it’s critical to stay cool and hydrated while avoiding strenuous activity. If you are taking certain medications, consult your doctor about staying safe in the heat.
Access to Air Conditioning
Mental illness is a serious issue that affects millions of people worldwide. Nearly one in every five adults in the United States has a mental illness. Unfortunately, mental illness is frequently associated with several other issues, such as poverty and inadequate housing. This can be dangerous during the summer when high temperatures and air conditioning are scarce.
Heat-related problems, such as heat stroke and dehydration, have been linked to people with mental illnesses. During extreme weather events, they are more likely to be hospitalized or die. For these reasons, it is critical to provide people with mental health concerns with air conditioning and other resources during hot weather. Taking these precautions can help prevent heat-related problems and improve the overall health of those with mental illnesses.
Tips for Family, Friends, and Caregivers
- Check on those more susceptible to a heat related illness twice a day, especially those on antipsychotic medications. Keep an eye out for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
- Please provide an air conditioner. If they don’t have an air conditioner, get them to an air-conditioned location such as a library, store, community center, cooling center, or restaurant.
- Ensure they have access to cool water—a bath, shower, or wet towels can help cool them off.
- Electric fans may provide comfort but will not prevent heat-related illness if temperatures are higher than the mid-90s.
- Even if they are not physically active, tell them to drink plenty of water or other non-caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
- Please make sure that their clothing is loose and light.
The most important thing for everyone to remember is that the health risks of extreme heat are real and serious. People should avoid the sun as much as possible, drink plenty of water, and seek places to cool off when necessary. It’s also critical that we check in on our neighbors and loved ones to see if they need assistance or care, as not everyone understands the dangers of extreme heat or has the means to seek cool places or medical attention when needed. If you have a loved one living with you at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses, make sure your AC is in good working order. If you have questions about AC installation in DeBary, FL, contact Mid-Florida Air today.