The climate crisis is a humanitarian crisis. Climate change is already contributing to humanitarian crises and climate and weather extremes are increasingly driving displacement in every region of the world. This undoubtably has an impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people affected by climate change and extreme weather events. The climate crisis has both direct and indirect effects on mental health and psychosocial wellbeing. Climate change exacerbates many social and environmental risk factors for mental health and psychosocial problems and can lead to emotional distress, the development of new mental health conditions and a worsening situation for people already living with these conditions.
The mental health impacts of climate change range from minimal stress and distress symptoms to clinical disorders. These range from anxiety and sleep disturbances to depression, post-traumatic stress, and suicidal thoughts. Other consequences of climate change may include the effect on individuals and communities in their everyday life, perceptions, and experiences, having to cope, understand, and respond appropriately to climate change and its implications. News regarding climate change can also make people uncertain and stressed, even depressed and with a sense of powerlessness.
A range of new terms and concepts are helping researchers and those working in mental health and psychosocial support better understand the impacts of climate change on mental health. This is an evolving area of research, but some terms include: