About a year ago, I started wondering about the impact of climate change on mental health. After all, depression is already the second leading cause of disability around the world, depression can be kicked off by stress, and watching the ocean inch up to your doorstep or seeing drought destroy your crops and take away your livelihood can be pretty nerve-racking.
I checked the most recent IPCC report. Nothing on mental health. I checked news articles. Nada. I checked the scientific literature, and found a few things, mostly from Australian scientists.
So I headed Down Under, and found a small but dedicated research community. I also found recalcitrant farmers, concerned members of Aboriginal communities, a climate change philosopher, and the beginnings of a new vocabulary.
Research on mental health and climate change in Australia pretty much starts and ends with a very modest and soft-spoken psychiatric epidemiologist, Helen Berry of the University of Canberra. She’s responsible for 27 papers and book chapters published on the subject since 2011. Her studies don’t focus on specific psychiatric diagnoses, but general mental health and well-being. So: How often... Read more