Extreme weather events, such as floods and heat waves, are associated with multiple health issues, including mental health issues. In the short term, these events cause affected populations to experience a disorganization of daily life, states of acute stress, psychological distress, and exhaustion. When such events persist, it can lead to more chronic pathological conditions in the population. These psychosocial impacts are likely to increase due to climate change because of the expected increase in extreme weather events. It is therefore necessary to equip the health and social services systems to implement concentrated approaches to population mental health by mobilizing different sectors that have an influence on the wellbeing of communities.
The CASSSIOPÉE project team used population data, historical and projected climate and weather data, and qualitative data from individual interviews and focus groups in different territories of the Chaudière-Appalaches region to identify the impacts, vulnerabilities, and psychosocial needs of populations in relation to extreme weather events. This data was then used to create an index of psychosocial vulnerabilities related to heat waves and hydro-climatic events in the Chaudière-Appalaches and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions. This index is currently being completed and will be integrated into the pilot regional reinforcement and adaptation plan created for participating CISSS organizations.
The CISSS-CA was the leading public health authority for this project. CISSS-CA has nearly a hundred facilities, including 4 hospitals and 23 local community service centers spread across the territory of the region. Composed of 12,000 employees and 800 physicians, the CISSS-CA also works in partnership with community organizations. The CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent public health department also supported the project, and their support was useful for assessing the transferability of the methods and tools to other regions. In addition, support was provided from the InterS4 Consortium, a consortium for health care knowledge mobilization, as it has been beneficial for facilitating the creation of knowledge transfer products and the development of convincing arguments specifically intended for CISSS managers.