Mental Health

Climate change can adversely affect mental health through acute and subacute impacts, as well as influence long term mental health outcomes. Exposure to extreme weather, such as bushfires, floods, and droughts, can cause trauma, stress and grief, while heatwaves can exacerbate mental illness and the effects of psychotherapeutic medication. Subacute impacts are associated with enduring mental stress, either related to post traumatic stress disorder, or psychological responses to loss. Each of these impacts is mediated by one’s physical health, socio-economic factors, exposure to repeated stressors, risk of displacement and / or forced migration, and wider community resilience. Some populations are at higher risk, often due to existing inequalities which climate change will only exacerbate. 

Furthermore, unmitigated climate change is leading to rising levels of anxiety related to climate change as an existential threat. A growing number of primary health care professionals and people across the world are reporting climate-related stress and depression. The term ‘eco-anxiety’ has been used to denote this experience, defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) in 2017 as “a chronic fear of environmental doom”. 

Despite this, the existing literature on climate change and mental health is sparse with large gaps in our knowledge. What literature does exist is largely focused on characterising and quantifying the impact of climate change on mental health and psychosocial wellbeing, and there is significant gaps in research on effective policy responses, either mitigation or adaptation strategies, or mental health promotion

Dr

Yaqoot Fatima

Research Fellow
University of Queensland
Environmental health
Health services
Indigenous health
Mental health
Research translation
Dr

Anne Cleary

Research Fellow
The University of Queensland
Environmental health
Health promotion
Mental health
Associate Professor

Grant Blashki

MD MBBS(Hons) FRACGP GAICD
Associate Professor in Global Health
Nossal Institute for Global Health, The University of Melbourne
Adaptation strategies
Climate policy
Co-benefits
Environmental health
Mental health
Dr

Susie Burke

PhD FAPS
Environmental Psychologist
Susie Burke Psychology
Bushfires
Co-benefits
Heatwaves
Mental health
Science communication
Professor

Michael Zyphur

Academic researcher
Business & Economics, University of Melbourne
Heatwaves
Inequity
Mental health
Dr

Jo Longman

MPH PhD
Research Fellow
The University Centre for Rural Health, The University of Sydney
Health promotion
Health services
Inequity
Mental health
Research translation
Professor

Petra Tschakert

Centenary Professor in Rural Development
University of Western Australia
Adaptation strategies
Forced migration
Inequity
Integrated vulnerability assessments
Mental health
Dr

Ivan Hanigan

Data science epidemiology
The University of Sydney
Air quality
Bushfires
Climate extremes
Heatwaves
Mental health
Dr

Fiona Charlson

PhD
NHMRC Research Fellow
Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research
Disease modelling
Health services
Mental health
Public health monitoring and surveillance
Vulnerable populations
Dr

Rebecca Patrick

Climate and Health researcher
Deakin University
Co-benefits
Environmental health
Health promotion
Mental health
Vulnerable populations