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Research on the impact of climate change on mental health and emotional wellbeing

In May 2021, researchers at The Grantham Institute published a briefing on the impact that climate change has on mental health and emotional wellbeing. Being one of five Global Institutes at Imperial College London, the Institute brings together climate and global environmental change expertise from across the College for climate change related research and translation into real world impact.

The briefing shows how climate change is negatively affecting the mental health and emotional wellbeing of people around the world. It proposes a detailed set of recommendations to stimulate greater knowledge, awareness and action for all sectors including policy makers, research institutions and mental health practitioners. The research highlights that : 

  • There is a clear relationship between increased temperatures and number of suicides;
  • There is clear evidence for severe distress following extreme weather events;

People who meet criteria for mental illness are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change on physical as well as mental health. According to the briefing these impacts :

  • Will get worse without meaningful interventions, driving and exacerbating health and social inequalities which themselves worsen mental health;
  • Are currently ‘hidden costs’, unaccounted for in policy and planning;
  • Are likely to be vastly underestimated as despite the serious effects, this has been a neglected area of research. The paper also shows that there are win-win opportunities (co-benefits) for improving mental health and emotional wellbeing associated with taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a warming climate. 

More information here.

Link to the briefing here.

Latest update: 28.10.2023