Climate-related damage to people's homes can have significant effects on their health, well-being - study

A new study proves climate-related damage to people's homes can have significant and long-lasting effects on their health and well-being. 

For Kiwis like Rakesh Chand, dealing with wild weather has been tough.

"It was really terrible, a nightmare actually, and we haven't recovered from that."

But it could take years to recover, a new study from Melbourne University found. It said people whose homes are damaged by climate-related disasters can suffer major ongoing negative effects on their health and well-being.

"It broke me," Chand said. "Whenever we come back to this place it's like a headache and I start feeling stressed again."

The study found those mental health impacts can last for one to two years after people's homes have been hit. 

With several major floods and cyclones in the past year, Dr Jackie Feather of the Climate Psychology Task Force is worried about New Zealanders' well-being.

"Housing is absolutely crucial to our sense of security and our sense of well-being," she said.

"We've got a tsunami of serious mental health problems coming as a result of climate change … The long-term consequences include depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress."

This is why Massey University is working to develop community disaster resilience.

Lauren Vinnell, a lecturer of emergency management at Massey University, wants more planning between councils and communities before disaster strikes.

"If we can relocate people and neighbourhoods together, that's really going to help them recover after these types of disasters," she said.

"Especially now we see these impacts getting more severe and more people being impacted."

Dr Feather hopes more is done to help.

"We need more funding for mental health services and more awareness of the impact of climate change and training in those areas."

To provide better support for people like Chand in the wake of climate disasters.