Herding reindeer is part of a traditional way of life for an indigenous Arctic people known as the Sami. Their ancestral land – stretching across parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia – is where many still live by the rhythms of centuries-old traditions.
In Sweden in particular, a mental health crisis is taking root among the Sami. It’s a complicated equation, but climate change is playing a role. I traveled to Arctic Scandinavia on a fellowship with the GroundTruth Project to report on this changing environment and the mental health landscape.
Hundreds of reindeer gallop around the corral, their hooves and knees popping with the sound of a fire crackling. It’s late, but here in the land of the midnight sun, the sky is silvery and bright. A mist rolls over the Arctic tundra, framing the herders and their animals in ghostly silhouettes.
This is a community wrapped tight in tradition: The indigenous peoples of northern Scandinavia — the Sami — have herded reindeer for generations. But it is also a community in crisis. Climate change has put enormous strain on these powerful animals — and on the men and women who care for them.
With that strain has come a mental health crisis. A crisis of suicide. Read more on STAT News.
Categories: Freelance Articles