Screenshot courtesy of NPR | Jeanetta Churchill stands outside of her Baltimore row house. She says she has to keep her air running constantly in the summer in order to manage her bipolar disorder. Nora Eckert/NPR

How High Heat Can Impact Mental Health

Jeanetta Churchill is blasting the air conditioning in her Baltimore row house. A massive heat wave just swept through the city, with temperatures topping 100 degrees. “I don’t even want to see what my power bill is this coming month,” she says.

Keeping cool in the summer months isn’t just a matter of comfort, says Churchill. It helps her manage the symptoms of her bipolar disorder. Churchill says if she doesn’t keep her house cool enough to sleep through the night, she can spiral into a manic episode with fits of rapid talking, irrational purchases, or even suicidal thoughts.

She’s not alone. For the nearly 1 in 5 adults who experience mental illness, heat can be dangerous, according to Ken Duckworth, medical director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.



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