Proposing Ten Global Priorities for Climate Change and Mental Health Research

18 Feb 2022

A Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR) led study has proposed ten global priorities for climate change and mental health research following consultation with experts across the globe.

Associate Professor Fiona Charlson, who holds joint appointments at QCMHR and UQ’s School of Public Health, said the ten global priorities are needed to advance understanding of how climate change impacts mental health and what can be done to prevent mental health problems or to promote mental health in impacted communities.

The ten global priorities are presented in Figure 1 (left).

“Climate change represents the biggest health threat of our time with overwhelming evidence now linking climate change to detrimental health impacts,” Associate Professor Charlson said.

“Increasing temperatures, more frequent and intense extreme weather events, and air pollution have all been linked to worsened physical health, while the mental health impacts of climate change have received less research attention.

“Therefore, this study was critical – both to draw attention to the mental health impacts of climate change – and to prompt researchers to urgently undertake studies that will inform evidence-based interventions, practices and policies that will safeguard mental health in communities impacted by climate change.”

With the ten global priorities now mapped out, Associate Professor Charlson hopes that the task of undertaking research in mental health and climate change will now be easier for research organisations around the globe.

“Mental health and climate change are complex challenges on their own, so conducting research to understand how these complex challenges interact and impact the health of people can seem overwhelming,” she said.

“We intend for the priorities presented by our study to serve as a jumping point for organisations to get started with this challenge and know that these priorities will evolve over time as the field of climate change and mental health grows.”

She said that, given the health co-benefits of transitioning to more sustainable ways of living, tackling this threat could be the most significant opportunity to shape the mental health of populations for centuries to come.

“Research on the impacts of climate change on mental health and mental health-related systems will assist decision-makers to develop robust evidence-based mitigation and adaptation policies and plans with the potential for broad benefits to society and the environment,” Associate Professor Charlson said.

“Progressing this research agenda will require a collaborative and global effort.”

This paper was published by the January 2022 issue of Environment International.

Associate Professor Charlson is supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early Career Fellowship (APP1138488) and strategic funding through The University of Queensland.

Contact: Kate Gadenne, 0438 727 895,