Exploring World Health Day 2023: The Planet’s Health Impacts Our Health

Updated January 27, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

World Health Day is an annual event that takes place on April 7th. This marks the date that the World Health Organization (WHO) was founded in 1948. Each year the global organization chooses a topic or theme to define the meaning of the day for the world. These topics may relate to all areas of well-being, including emotional, psychological, social, and physical health. You may be wondering what the theme for World Health Day is in 2023, why it matters, and what can we do to honor this event. Read on to discover the answers. 

Are You Anxious About The Environment And Its Impact On Health?

World Health Day 2023: The Health Of The Planet

This year, the theme of World Health Day is titled “Our Planet, Our Health” and focuses on how the health of the planet impacts the health of the people in our world. To put it simply, the planet's health directly affects our health as human beings. This refers to mental and physical health - not just physical well-being alone. With climate change worsening as time goes on, it makes sense that this is both a primary and necessary focus. Here are some immediate environmental concerns and what we know about how they affect human health.

Air Pollution

Air pollution - even that which occurs in small amounts - can lead to several health detriments. The possible mental and physical health risks of air pollution can include but are not restricted to diminished lung function, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), negatively affected cognitive function, depression, and early mortality. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution kills roughly seven million people worldwide in any given year. Those who are low income or live in areas with higher levels of pollution or have existing health concerns may be at a higher risk for these matters.

Natural Disasters

 A natural disaster refers to any adverse occurrence resulting from the natural processes of the earth that we live in. Examples of natural disasters are floods, fires, storms, droughts, and heat waves. Natural disasters may cause people to evacuate or lose their homes, lose their lives, or loved ones, and otherwise impact a person profoundly. Like water and air pollution, climate change has contributed to a rise in these occurrences. Furthermore, natural disasters are a common source of trauma, which can, but does not always, lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and heighten the risk for other mental health concerns. For example, people who have experienced wildfires are at an increased risk for PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and depression.

The uncertainty and stress caused by the planet's health are other concerns that affects people across the globe. Statistics from the American Psychological Association public opinion poll, released in 2020, show that 67% of people are extremely or somewhat anxious about the impact of climate change on our planet, and 55% are extremely or somewhat anxious about the impact of climate change on their mental health. The good news is that there are actions we can take to support the health of ourselves and the world around us.

What Can We Do?

With all these concerns in mind, what can we do? Here are some action steps that individuals and communities can take to improve the trajectory of the earth and, therefore, each other:

Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

This may help you find ways to make changes in your daily life to support the environment. If you're a teacher or professor, this is a potential activity to try with your students. Find the free calculator here: Carbon Footprint Calculator | Climate Change | US EPA.

Adjust Your Shopping Habits

You may have heard about the effects of fast fashion on the environment. This is just one example of how shopping habits might impact the environment. When a new item is made - whether it is an apparel item, electronics, or something else - carbon emissions are caused by the production process. From the growth of raw materials like cotton (and the mass amount of water needed for this crop) to the refinement and production process itself to shipping the completed clothing, to waste products generated and released into air and water, fast fashion is one of the primary industry culprits of excessive carbon emissions, pollution, and water usage. To reduce your impact, you might reconsider buying new things that you may not need, buy certain items second-hand when you can, or recycle and reuse your items when possible. When your clothing develops a rip or hole, consider learning how to mend it and take it to a tailor if something no longer fits properly rather than throwing the item away. Donating items or selling them to resale shops are other good ways to help mitigate fast fashion.

Remember That Small Changes Count

Some of the changes you can make to support the environment's health may seem so minor that you do not notice them in action, but they can still have a major impact on the environment. Small changes might include things like turning the faucet off when you are not using water directly, making an effort to recycle when you have the opportunity to do so, turning the heat off when you aren't using it, shutting the lights off when you are not in the room instead of leaving them on, or purchasing energy-efficient appliances next time you are in the market to purchase new appliances, such as a clothes washer or dryer. It is also noted that things like a leak in the roof can lead to a significant amount of lost water. It may not be something that you think about all too much, but it impacts. Other small changes can include drying some of your clothes on a rack, trying to purchase foods (particularly produce) in minimal plastic packaging, recycling what you can, composting, growing some of your food, or cutting down your shower time by even just a minute or two.

Consider The Way You Commute

Suppose you typically drive to work, school, or other locations daily. You might have an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by carpooling, walking, riding a bike, or taking public transportation methods, like the bus or rail, if they are accessible in your area. If you are considering the purchase of a vehicle now or in the future, you may opt for an electric car to reduce the cause of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution to the air. Holding meetings via audio or video call can also help you reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by transportation methods such as cars and planes.

Reduce Food Waste

There are several different ways that some individuals may be able to reduce food waste. To reduce food waste, you might try to buy only what you need, freeze, or otherwise preserve items for later instead of letting them go bad, or compost when you can.

Reaching Out For Help

You can take these steps not just on World Health Day but all year. Raising awareness and making the change are important for ourselves and future generations. Suppose you need a space to talk about the environment. In that case, the impacts of climate change or something else that impacts your mental health, such as feelings of depression or interpersonal relationships, a therapist may be able to help. To find a therapist in your area, you can ask a medical provider for a referral, contact your insurance company to see which providers they cover in your area, conduct a web search, or look at an online directory that lets you search for a provider who might be a good fit based on what you're looking for. You might also consider remote therapy options, which are a way to reduce your carbon footprint and get the help you need all in one since you do not have to make your way to a therapy office.

Are You Anxious About The Environment And Its Impact On Health?

Online Therapy

Not only does it cut the commute time out of the day (and reduce carbon emissions since you don't have to drive or obtain transportation to appointments), but studies show that internet-based therapy is an effective way to address a wide range of mental health concerns.

If you are interested in online therapy, consider BetterHelp. BetterHelp has continued to improve throughout the years, and there are over 20,000 independent, licensed professionals who offer therapy through the platform. The providers on the platform have a wide range of specialties, including anxiety, depression, and more. Working with a therapist through the BetterHelp platform is often more affordable than traditional. In in-person therapy, there is no insurance, and we strive to make it easy to get started. When you sign up for BetterHelp, you will complete a brief questionnaire. Then, we will match you with a therapist who meets your needs based on the answers you provide. If you need to change therapists or cancel your services entirely, you can do so at any time, and financial aid may be available for those who need it.

Get started with BetterHelp, or read the FAQs and therapist reviews on our website to learn more about the platform. No matter how you find a therapist to work with, you deserve to get the support you need and lead the happiest, healthiest, and most fulfilling life possible.

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