The Mental Health Impacts of Ecological Grief in a Changing Climate

The ecologist (in a more than scientific sense) is someone who is touched by this loss in such a way as to mourn the toll of extinction instituted by human exemptionism and exceptionalism. She is bereft, and yet also understands that this feeling, her being touched by irrevocable loss, is itself a matter of realizing the existence of a sense of an ecological and ethical and political community with other species.
Mick Smith, 2013, p. 29

In 2016, I participated in the Advanced Study Institute, hosted by the Transcultural Psychiatry group at McGill University, led by Dr. Lawrence Kirmayer. The 2016 theme was Psychiatry for a Small Planet, and brought together an international group of researchers working on various aspects of mental health, nature, and the environment.

I was invited to speak on the ways in which ecological grief manifests within a changing climate in the North based on the Nunatsiavut-led research on climate change and mental health, and what it teaches us about our relationships with the more-than-human worlds.

Coverage of Climate Change & Mental Health Research

Today, the Toronto Star published the second in a series of articles by Tyler Hamilton examining the many complex facets related to climate change and mental health, and featured our work in Nunatsiavut, Labrador.

Sometimes there are moments in life that change you, that alter you in ways that you can never really fully articulate… and that continue to teach you things years later. This research, and working with the Inuit communities in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, is one of the moments. Hearing the voices, experiences, and wisdom of the people with whom I work is humbling beyond belief. And dealing with, responding too, and hopefully mitigating the mental and emotional impacts of a rapidly changing climate and environment is something that continues, daily, to occupy my thoughts and drive my actions.

 

An excerpt:

Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, an assistant professor of indigenous studies at Cape Breton University, said the connection between mental health and climate change in Canada’s North is growing stronger and in “urgent” need of further investigation.

“There’s this dialogue that’s just waiting to leap out into the national and international consciousness,” she said. “In Canada, we have this active fishing culture, active farming culture, and large Arctic indigenous groups who are on the front lines of climate change, yet we have been really quiet on this topic.”

This is indeed a national dialogue that needs to happen in this country, and we are in a time in this country that I believe there is a willingness and and ability to listen and to act.

Thank you to Tyler Hamilton for his excellent reporting, and for his interest in this topic. His work is making sure this information and these voices get out, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

 

Climate Change & Inuit Mental Health

Today, an agreement is being tabled at COP21, calling on over 200 countries to sign on. As we continue these national and international dialogues, it is important to remember human impacts, including human suffering, distress, and psychological impacts.

I am pleased to share this new ebook feature through Adjacent Government that was just released to coincide with COP21. Click on the picture below to access the article.

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Article in International Innovations Full Release

A feature on our research on climate change and mental health in Nunatsiavut has just reached full release, and I’m pleased to share the links here. Click on the photo below to access the article online, including the embedded documentary and hyperlinks, or to download a pdf copy. Alternatively, click here for a pdf copy.

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Courtesy of International Innovation – a leading scientific dissemination service.

Research Featured in International Innovation in Special Issue on Catalysts for Care

I am happy to share that our work on climate change and mental health has been featured in a special issue of International Innovation: Disseminating Science, Research, and Technology on Catalysts for Care (Issue 185). International Innovation is an open-access publication that features interviews, research, and content from around the world on leading scientific and research breakthroughs, discoveries, and thought. Our team was humbled and honoured to have our work appear in this publication.

A screen shot is available below, but to view the digital version, complete with an embedded link to our documentary film, Attutauniujuk Nunami/Lament for the Land, please view pages 66 and 67 here.

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RSC College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists Video

As part of our induction into the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists, each member had to make a video highlighting their work. I was lucky enough to use footage from my work up in Nunatsiavut, Labrador for the visuals. Thanks to Herbie Sakalauskas from Cape Breton University for the amazing editing prowess!

Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change (IHACC) Project Video Released

Check out this video about the amazing work being conducted by my colleagues at McGill in the Climate Change Adaptation Research Group and the University of Guelph.