Mental Health & Our Changing Climate

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 9.48.56 AMIn June 2014, the American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica published an important report, Beyond Storms & Drought: The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change, which outlined the numerous direct and indirect pathways through which climate change and the resulting environmental alterations impact mental health.

Yesterday, an updated report, Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance, was released and I am pleased to be an Editor and a Contributor on this report. The shared goal is to continue to increase awareness and understanding of the psychological impacts of climate change, and to continue dialogue on this important topic.

 

From the Introduction to the Report:

It is time to expand information and action on climate and health, including mental health. The health, economic, political, and environmental implications of climate change affect all of us. The tolls on our mental health are far reaching. They induce stress, depression, and anxiety; strain social and community relationships; and have been linked to increases in aggression, violence, and crime. Children and communities with few resources to deal with the impacts of climate change are those most impacted. To compound the issue, the psychological responses to climate change, such as conflict avoidance, fatalism, fear, helplessness, and resignation are growing. These responses are keeping us, and our nation, from properly addressing the core causes of and solutions for our changing climate, and from building and supporting psychological resiliency.

This report also highlights work done in partnership with Inuit from throughout Nunatsiavut.

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Grief & Climate Change Podcast

Back in September, I had the great pleasure of participating in a phone-in conference as part of an initiative, The World in Which We OccurOur discussion focused on Grief and Climate Change, and I was honoured to share the event with two other amazing individuals, Clive Hamilton and Lori Gruen. The podcast of our discussions is now available.

Grief and Climate Change:

An investigation into the methodologies of approach to ‘climate deniers’ and their reasoning, as well as the flipside of grief: how to psychologically adapt to the repercussions of natural disasters today? This session identifies the psychological response in an era of global warming on both the climate denier side of the equation, as well as victims who have weathered a natural catastrophe and the effects thereafter. What is the mournable body beyond the human? Are non-human entities fellow vulnerable beings capable of our mourning? What kind of concerted political action exists for these beings?

Clive Hamilton is Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra and the author of ‘Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change’.

Ashlee Cunsolo Willox is a Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Healthy Communities and an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Nursing and Indigenous Studies at Cape Breton University in Unama’ki/Cape Breton, focusing on climate change and mental health, Indigenous health and cultural resurgence, and environmental mourning.

Lori Gruen is the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University in Connecticut where she is also Professor of Environmental Studies. She is the co-editor of ‘Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with other Animals and the Earth’.