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Pakistan has experienced historic and devastating flooding resulting from the interaction between melting glaciers in the northern regions of the country and monsoon rains. Over 1,400 lives have been lost, and over 33 million people are directly affected, experiencing loss of housing, property, livestock, crops, and infrastructure. In addition to the direct effects of the flooding, the country now faces food shortages and the spread of infectious diseases, exacerbated by the potential of the flooding taking months to recede. In addition to the physical health needs of those affected, the mental health toll of the disaster will no doubt be high. The need for scalable prevention and early interventions for trauma-related psychological distress is clear. Building from the knowledge base of the ISTSS Treatment Guidelines, the Executive Committee coordinated ISTSS’s collaboration with the World Health Organization, and partner Phoenix Australia, to contribute to further guideline development in this area.  

Traumatic events do not affect individuals in an equivocal manner. Climate disasters are no exception. Like other traumatic events, natural disasters exacerbate patterns of inequity. In the United States (U.S.) Hurricane Katrina exemplified how pre-disaster disadvantage led to increased vulnerability (e.g., disparities in evacuation efforts, resource allocation posttrauma; Sastry & VanLandignham, 2009). The 2017 hurricane season provides another key example of the intersection of inequalities and disaster exposure, with Puerto Rico receiving less U.S. governmental aide compared to Florida and Texas, despite being impacted by two consecutive major hurricanes (Willison et al., 2019). The disparity in response has been linked to probable detrimental effects on health of those in Puerto Rico (Willison et al., 2019). As a global traumatic stress community, we have a moral and ethical imperative to work tirelessly to address not only the causes and consequences of traumatic stress, but also to mitigate the disparities therein.  

As climate trauma is on the rise, much work is to be done from a research, clinical, policy, and organizational standpoint. The impacts of climate change on traumatic events were highlighted in the ISTSS Briefing Paper on Global Climate Change and Trauma, which was also foundational to the development of a Global Collaboration on Traumatic Stress theme on Climate Change; I urge you to become involved with this initiative. As an organization, we are uniquely poised to help address this continued need and must meet the call. ISTSS’s ability to bring together experts from across the globe to contribute knowledge for change is inspiring, and I urge us to continue to focus on connection, networking, and cross-continent efforts in this critical area. 


Sastry, N., & VanLandingham, M. (2009). One year later: Mental illness prevalence and disparities among New Orleans residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. American Journal of Public Health, 99, S725-S731.  

Willison, C. E., Singer, P. M., Creary, M. S., & Greer, S. L. (2019). Quantifying inequities in US federal response to hurricane disaster in Texas and Florida compared with Puerto Rico. BMJ Global Health, 4, e001191.