Mental Health Impacts of Droughts: Lessons for the U.S. from Australia

  • Elisaveta P. PetkovaEmail author
  • Anne S. Celovsky
  • Wei-Yann Tsai
  • David P. Eisenman
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


Drought is a condition already endemic to many regions of the United States and is likely to increase in frequency and/or duration under a changing climate. Drought can have wide ranging health impacts, particularly among vulnerable subpopulations such as rural, agricultural communities. Although poor mental health outcomes are an established public health concern for such populations during and following drought periods, the pathways through which drought can impact the mental health of rural residents are not well understood. In addition, most of the studies to date have been carried out in Australia, a country that has decades of experience with protracted droughts. As regions in the United States struggle with the extended droughts, lessons and evidence from Australia may be particularly useful in the development and implementation of surveillance and mitigation initiatives. This article provides an overview of the existing evidence of drought impacts on the mental health of residents in Australia with particular focus on vulnerability and discusses the application of this knowledge to drought response and planning in the United States.


Drought Climate change Mental health Adaptation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisaveta P. Petkova
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anne S. Celovsky
    • 2
  • Wei-Yann Tsai
    • 3
  • David P. Eisenman
    • 3
  1. 1.National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Earth InstituteColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Mailman School of Public Health, Department of BiostatisticsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research, UCLA Center for Public Health and DisastersUCLA Fielding School of Public HealthLos AngelesUSA

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