Over the past decade, research and public interest on the effects of climate change on mental health have been increasing, as the number of individuals and communities exposed and vulnerable to climate change hazards grows. Weather and climate extremes such as storms, floods, droughts, heat events and wildfires can be traumatic and have immediate impacts on mental health. Slow onset events like changing seasonal and environmental norms, sea-level rise and ice patterns can also affect people’s mental well-being. Growing evidence confirms that the consequences of rapid, widespread and pervasive climate events may include anxiety, PTSD, higher rates of suicide, a diminished sense of well-being (stress, sadness), ecological grief, a rise in domestic violence, cultural erosion and diminished social capital and social relations.
Based on the available evidence, the mental health impacts from climate change are already widespread and likely to worsen. Even with immediate and strong action towards mitigation and adaptation, climate change will continue to be a serious threat. It is critical that we understand the serious risks that climate change poses to mental well-being and take urgent action to support health systems and enhance individual and community mental health and resilience within a changing climate.