Background: Children and adolescents are considered to be particularly vulnerable to the psychological effects of climate change, such as extreme weather events. What are the protective factors and stressors for the mental health of the young population after extreme weather events in Germany? Methods: Nine semi-structured interviews with representatives of occupational groups providing care to children, adolescents, and political stakeholders were conducted in Simbach am Inn, a German town affected by flooding in 2016. The interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis according to Mayring. Results: The interviews show that the parents’ dealing with what they had experienced and the concern for their relatives were the most influential stressors for children and adolescents. As protective factors, they felt that conversations with familiar people and restoring a certain “normality” were particularly important. The interviewees described both, the time of the flooding, and the time after the initial state of shock had subsided, as particularly stressful. Consequently, the experts reported on children and adolescents acutely complaining of fear, helplessness, and extreme tension. Nevertheless, the demand for psychological care increased only slightly after the flooding in Simbach am Inn. Conclusion: The social environment of children and adolescents is essential for their psychological well-being after an extreme weather event. Research, especially on children and adolescents who have already been affected, must increase in order to be able to describe influencing factors even more precisely, to protect individuals from adverse mental health effects, and to identify healthcare requirements.
Hieronimi, A., Schneider M., Wermuth I., Schulte-Körne G., Nowak D., Bose-O’Reilly S. (2023.) A Qualitative Study to Explain the Factors Influencing Mental Health after a Flooding. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 20(1): 134. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph20010134PDF-Download