The Effects of Climate Change on the Mental Health of Smallholder Crop Farmers in Embu and Meru Counties of Kenya
The weather patterns and climatic conditions have been changing over the last decades. Environmental psychosocial stresses associated with the effects of climate change are known to cause mental health issues such as depression and other mood disorders, anxiety, trauma, psychosis, substance abuse, ecological grief, relational problems, and psychological distress. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of climate change on the mental health of smallholder crop farmers in Embu and Meru Counties of Kenya. A sample of 400 smallholder farmers was determined using Yamane’s formula then participants selected using quota sampling. Data collection utilized the Self-Reporting Questionnaire 20-item (SRQ-20) to assess the mental health of the smallholder crop farmers and a researcher formulated questionnaire to assess the effects of climate change as well as the coping mechanisms utilized by the farmers to cope with the effects of climate change and mental illnesses. The results indicate that prevalence of mental health issues among smallholder crop farmers in Embu and Meru is at 35.2%. Correlational analysis shows that the mental health of smallholder farmers in Embu and Meru has been affected by climate changes. This study recommends that the government, agricultural agencies, and other private partnerships should help smallholder crop farmers with creative and innovative ways of dealing with climate change. Owing to the prevalence of mental illness among smallholder crop farmers, the study recommends that farmers proactively seek mental health services to help them in managing mental illnesses. Farmers should engage in seminars that train them on effective coping mechanisms to deal with climate change on one hand and mental illness on the other. Government and private entities, that are able to, could facilitate access to free or subsidized mental healthcare to smallholder crop farmers since most of these farmers cannot afford mental healthcare.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Mercy Wawira Njeru, Josephine Nyaboke Arasa, PhD, Josephine Ndanu Musau, PhD, Michael Kihara, PhD
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