CCA Health California’s Kristen Slater authored an op-ed in the Modesto Bee outlining the mental health consequences of poor air quality. In addition to the well documented physical health issues caused by pollutants, poor air quality has also been conclusively linked to psychiatric disorders like depression, she writes.
The San Joaquin Valley, where air quality is poor and many people work agricultural jobs outside, is especially vulnerable to this risk. Staying indoors can lead to increased social isolation, especially for those with transportation or mobility challenges. Unfortunately, the shortage of mental health professionals in the area also compounds the problem, Slater writes.
“To make sure we are prepared to handle what comes next, we need long-term, thorough solutions,” Slater writes. Community-based support, including efforts to dispel the stigma around mental health issues and check in on loved ones who may be struggling, can help fill the gaps.