"The impacts of climate change will not be restricted to those who are directly affected," said Susan Clayton, co-author of a new report from the American Psychological Association and the nonprofit ecoAmerica.
Climate change presents "a far more widespread threat to our well-being through direct and indirect impacts on mental health," said Clayton, a professor of psychology at the College of Wooster in Ohio.
Areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, for example, suicide and/or suicidal thoughts more than doubled. Nearly half the citizenry developed an anxiety or a mood disorder such as depression, while 1 in 6 experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to prior research cited in the new report.
Nearly 15 percent of residents hit by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 were found to have symptoms of PTSD, the report said.
Besides working toward climate solutions, Clayton said the single best defense strategy is to strengthen social connections.
"Social connections are very important to individual well-being in the best of times, and are a key indicator of resilience following negative events," she added.
Become informed about the likely impact of climate change in your community, and learn how to prepare for it, she advised.