Climate Change profound impact on mental health

Organizer: Chadia Wannous
Format: Online, Morning

There is growing evidence that changing climatic conditions, especially cascading and compounding risks, are adversely affecting mental health, including the states of emotional resilience and psychosocial well-being such as stress, clinical disorders (trauma, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression) and suicide. Intensifying public awareness of the current impacts and future systemic risks of changing climate are also increasing the prevalence of emotional responses, especially among youth concerned about the future. Terms used to describe this phenomenon include eco-anxiety, biospheric concern, and solastalgia. Understanding of the magnitude and pattern of mental health impacts of climate variability and change is limited, particularly in the Global South. Therefore, supporting transdisciplinary research and practice collaborations that translate knowledge into actions and sustainable solutions are needed. Tackling these issues requires proactive, integrated, and sustainable planning with (inter)national agreements, preparedness building activities, and support for those on the move or “left behind”. Concrete actions include communicating these risks and impacts, and advocacy for mitigation and adaptation measures that enable populations to cope with, prepare for and respond to climatic systemic risks. Policies and measures to protect and strengthen blue and green spaces also are important as the ecosystem services they provide are associated with positive mental health and well-being outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic led to widespread confinement and mobility restrictions, resulting in economic contraction and reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. However, this reduction is temporary, and emissions bounced back and are expected to decline by “only” 4–8% in 2020. To accelerate this reduction, COVID-19 recovery packages must include investments in green economy and natural capital, to achieve both economic revitalization and climate goals. The proposed session will discuss the health risks and impacts of climate changes on mental health and the strategies to address them in a transdisciplinary approach.

Themes: Sustainable Solutions from the Global South, Integrated Action for the SDGs, Knowledge-to-Action, Sustainability for Who?