Climate Change: The Next Challenge for Public Mental Health

This past year, I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Francois Bourque, a clinical psychiatrist and PhD Candidate at Kings College London, on a manuscript aimed primarily at mental health providers around the topic of climate change and mental health. We are pleased to share our newly-published article, straight from the International Review of Psychiatry (August 2014; 26(4): 415-422).

Abstract

Climate change is increasingly recognized as one of the greatest threat to human health of the 21st century, with consequences that mental health professionals are also likely to face. While physical health impacts have been increasingly emphasized in literature and practice, recent scholarly literature indicate that climate change and related weather events and environmental changes can profoundly impact psychological well-being and mental health through both direct and indirect pathways, particularly among those with pre-existing vulnerabilities or those living in ecologically-sensitive areas. Although knowledge is still limited about the connections between climate change and mental health, evidence is indicating that impacts may be felt at both the individual and community levels, with mental health outcomes ranging from psychological distress, depression and anxiety, to increased addictions and suicide rates. Drawing on examples from diverse geographical areas, this contribution highlights some climate-sensitive impacts that may be encountered by mental health professionals. We then suggest potential avenues for public mental health in light of current and projected changes, in order to stimulate thought, debate, and action.

Click here to read the article.

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