A study to assess the impact of climate change on the mental health of Madelinots

Public Health wants to know to what extent the mental health of the residents of Îles-de-la-Madeleine may be affected by climate change, especially those who lived through a difficult weekend in September during the passage of Hurricane Fiona.

In addition to the damage caused by the strong winds and heavy rains, the impact of the storm, and other previous ones, caused a significant retreat of the shores of the archipelago due to the extraordinary waves.

On islands, erosion is therefore a very tangible manifestation of ongoing climate change.

The Direction régionale de santé publique de la Gaspésie et des Îles-de-la-Madeleine is currently expecting funding of $120,000 from the Ministry of Health and Social Services to commission a study on the Madelinots’ perception of the phenomenon and to better equip policy takers. decisions.

“Do you get used to it or does it constantly assault you? There is no scientific literature on this subject; we lack knowledge. This study would be the first in Quebec,” said Dr.D. Marianne Papillon, Medical Advisor of the Regional Department of Public Health stationed in the Islands.

She suggests that the constant erosion the archipelago is undergoing may have a sneaky effect on people’s morale.

Under the constant onslaught of the waves since the ice -which is disappearing with global warming- hardly protects them in winter, the coasts of the archipelago recede on average more than half a meter per year.

During the passage of Hurricane Fiona, the erosion was about twenty meters in some places.

The research requested by the Regional Directorate would be carried out by an ethnologist from the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) over the next two years.

On the other hand, Dr. Papillon is working, also with INSPQ, in a process to assess regional vulnerability to climate change, with the development of a public health action plan.

For the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, the aim is to refine the climate projections for 2050 and establish what the repercussions will be on the health of the islanders.

The approach also aims to eliminate inequalities in terms of vulnerability to the effects of climate change on health, Dr. Papillon explained.

“We are unequal when it comes to climate and climate change will increase these inequalities,” he argues. Simply put, the poorest and sickest people will get even poorer and sicker. We must seek to reduce these gaps and strengthen the social fabric that is itself crumbling with inequalities.

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