Rapid Environmental Change, Psychological Distress and Well-being in Chilika Lagoon, India
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As the effects of climate change are increasingly occurring throughout the world, costal fisheries are at risk of experiencing significant impacts on their environment. As recent studies indicate that psychological distress is associated with environmental distress, this research aims to shed light on the relationship between environmental distress and human distress. Chilika Lagoon, India is a common resource shared independently by caste-based fisher communities. In the last four decades, Chilika has experienced significant changes to its ecosystem including changes and loss in ecology, economy and culture, but none have explicitly addressed the issue of psychological distress. The view on psychological distress brings a new perspective to Chilika’s current environmental and social interactions with the Lagoon. Studies show that the Lagoon’s environmental changes impact the livelihood of the local fishers. Their access to the customary fishing grounds have been restricted through largescale encroachment for aquaculture leading to significant number of fishers migrating to distant places in search of income and employment. On this backdrop, the purpose of this research is to analyze the psychological health conditions of the local fishers who have been exposed to rapid transformation of the Lagoon. In addition, this study examines the coping strategies and sources of social support of the fishers to analyze their ability to manage their psychological distress. The findings reveal that the fisher communities were exposed to significant environmental distress of the Lagoon from 1980 to 2017. In addition, the fishers have experienced significant impacts on their livelihood, resource access and migration associated with the environmental change. As a result, the psychological distress of the fisher communities had significant impacts on feelings of insecurity and intense worry associated with environmental change. Moreover, the results indicate that the majority of the participants had effective coping strategies and sources of social support that helped manage other psychological distress symptoms associated with environmental change, such as feelings of social isolation and loss of connection. Due to the effective coping strategies and social support, the participants were able to reduce the impact on their overall psychological distress. This study concludes that further research is needed to fully understand how humans cope with environmental change and develop effective coping strategies to reduce the psychological distress associated with environmental distress.
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Patricia Crisan Szabo (2020). Rapid Environmental Change, Psychological Distress and Well-being in Chilika Lagoon, India. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/15647