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Flood- and weather-damaged homes and mental health

Flood damage
Published: September 2019

This study looked at whether living in a home damaged by weather or flooding was linked with people’s mental health.

Aim

Floods, storms and other weather-related hazards are becoming more common in the UK. This study looked at whether living in a home damaged by weather or flooding was linked with people’s mental health.

Findings 

• People whose homes had been damaged by flooding or storms were more likely to have poor mental health, such as depression and anxiety, than the rest of the population. The strength of this association was similar to that of living in a disadvantaged neighbourhood.
• People with weather-damaged homes were more likely to experience poor mental health even when the damage to the property had not forced them to leave their homes
• One person in twenty (4.5%) had recent experience of living in a storm- or flood-damaged home. With climate change increasing the frequency and severity of storms and flooding, such experiences are likely to become more common.
• Improving community resilience and disaster preparedness is a priority, and having evidence on the mental health of exposed populations is key to building this capacity.

Methods 

We analysed data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, a national, representative survey of adults in England (n=7525). It provides the National Statistics on prevalence of mental disorder assessed to diagnostic criteria. The latest survey in the series (2014) asked participants if they had experienced damage to their home (wind, rain, snow, flood) in the six months prior to interview, a period that included months of unprecedented population exposure to flooding, particularly in southern England. Regression analyses tested the association between living in a damaged home and mental health when controlling for other factors.

Download from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health