Mental Health and Wind Turbines

“WHO is making a simple statement: mental health- neglected for far too long - is crucial to the overall well-being of individuals, societies and countries and must be universally regarded in a new light.” - World Health Organization [1]

 

Clinicians and other researchers have documented both physiological and psychological symptoms reported by victims experiencing adverse health effects from wind turbines. [2],[3],[4],[5] Many families have abandoned their homes to protect their health. This cannot be denied.

 

The reported psychological symptoms include decreased quality of life, stress, anxiety, depression, cognitive dysfunction, anger, grief, and a sense of injustice.

 

World Health Organization acknowledges individuals suffering adverse psychological symptoms are often victimized from a lack of understanding.[6] Often the stigma, discrimination and human rights violations that affected individuals and families endure are intense and pervasive.[7]

 

An American and Canadian Wind Energy Association sponsored report (A/CanWEA Panel Review) does not appear to dispute that there are individuals experiencing adverse physiological symptoms. Without having studied these individuals the A/CanWEA Panel Review speculates that the reported symptoms may be the result of psychological responses to wind turbines.[8]

 

A presentation attributed to one of the authors of the A/CanWEA Panel Review reinforces this position by stating the reported physiological

 

“Symptoms (are the) same as those of noise annoyance. Psychological, not physiological”[9]

 

This simplistic view is not shared by World Health Organization who acknowledges

 

 “…health includes mental, physical and social functioning, which are closely associated and interdependent.”[10]

 

“In an integrated and evidence-based model of health, mental health (including emotions and thought patterns) emerges as a key determinant of overall health. Anxious and depressed moods, for example, initiate a cascade of adverse changes in endocrine and immune functioning, and create increased susceptibility to a range of physical illnesses.”[11]

 

“Today we know that most illnesses, mental and physical, are influenced by a combination of biological, psychological and social factors.”[12]

 

[13]

 

When people are suffering avoidable adverse health effects the distinction between physiological and psychological is of little consequence. Both are of equal importance.

 

Health Canada further explains that

 

“Mental health is as important as physical health. In fact, the two are intertwined. Our mental health directly affects our physical health and vice versa…mental health factors can increase the risk of developing physical problems such as, diabetes, heart disease, weight gain or loss, gastrointestinal problems, reductions in immune system, efficiency, and blood biochemical imbalances.”[14]

 

The adverse psychological effects being reported by individuals do not indicate a sign of weakness.

 

“All too often, people mistake these disorders for mental weakness or instability. The social stigma attached to mental illness often prevents those with anxiety disorders from asking for help.” [15]

 

Many jurisdictions including Canada have provisions to protect the individual from inflicted psychological harm.[16]

 

World Health Organization considers prevention and treatment of psychological ill-health a human rights issue.[17],[18],[19]

 

It appears that The Society for Wind Vigilance and The Canadian and American Wind Energy Associations acknowledge that there are individuals experiencing both physiological and psychological symptoms as a result of exposure to wind turbines.

 

In spite of this acknowledgement the A/CanWEA Panel Review does not offer evidence based strategies to protect individuals from these adverse health effects.  The report concludes by stating that the authors do not “advocate for funding further studies”.[20]

 

World Health Organization asserts it is possible to prevent the risk of psychological ill-health by employing prevention policies based on systematic assessments of public mental health needs.[21] Suggested prevention strategies include the removal of stressors such as through the “reduction of noise”.[22]

 


[1]World Health Organization, The World Health Report: 2001: Mental Health: New Understanding, New Hope. http://www.who.int/whr/2001/en/

[2] Amanda Harry M.D., Wind Turbines Noise and Health, 2007

[3] Dr Michael Nissenbaum, Wind Turbines, Health, Ridgelines, and Valleys, Montpelier, VT, May 7 2010 http://www.windvigilance.com/news/preliminary-findings---controlled-study-mars-hill

[4] Wind Vigilance for Ontario Communities (WindVOiCe©) http://www.windvigilance.com/windvoice_home

[5] Dr Nina Pierpont, Wind Turbine Syndrome, 2009

[6] World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/mental_health/en/

[7] World Health Organization, Prevention Of Mental Disorders : Effective Interventions And Policy Options : Summary Report / A Report Of The World Health Organization, 2004

[8] W. David Colby, M.D. et al., Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects, An Expert Panel Review 2009, Prepared for American Wind Energy Association and Canadian Wind Energy Association

[9] Leventhall Geoff,  Wind Turbines Large Small and Unusual, November 11, 2009

[10] World Health Organization, Prevention Of Mental Disorders : Effective Interventions And Policy Options : Summary Report / A Report Of The World Health Organization, 2004, http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/en/prevention_of_mental_disorders_sr.pdf

[11] World Health Organization, The World Health Report: 2001: Mental Health: New Understanding, New Hope. http://www.who.int/whr/2001/en/

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[16] Section Seven of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Blencoe v. B.C. (Human Rights Commission), 2000)

[17] World Health Organization, Mental Health Legislation And Human Rights, 2004, http://www.who.int/mental_health/policy/resource_book_MHLeg.pdf

[18] World Health Organization, Prevention Of Mental Disorders : Effective Interventions And Policy Options : Summary Report / A Report Of The World Health Organization, 2004, http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/en/prevention_of_mental_disorders_sr.pdf

[19] World Health Organization, The World Health Report: 2001: Mental Health: New Understanding, New Hope. http://www.who.int/whr/2001/en/

[20] W. David Colby, M.D. et al., Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects, An Expert Panel Review 2009, Prepared for American Wind Energy Association and Canadian Wind Energy Association

[21] World Health Organization, Prevention Of Mental Disorders : Effective Interventions And Policy Options : Summary Report / A Report Of The World Health Organization, 2004, http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/en/prevention_of_mental_disorders_sr.pdf

[22] Ibid.