Climate change presents a growing risk to health, including mental health and wellbeing, according to the United States Global Change Research Program which has just released its report, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment.
Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society Professor Joseph Reser, from Griffith University, a contributing author said, “This is a first for the National Climate Health Impacts Report to have a special stand-alone Health Impacts Report, and one which includes a mental health and wellbeing chapter.”
The report indicates that the ongoing threat of climate change is having multiple and current psychological and social impacts on health and wellbeing, ranging from elevated concern, feelings of helplessness, and pessimism, to more severe symptoms of distress.
“The findings here are echoed by our Australian research findings,” says Professor Reser. “The ongoing and profound threat of climate change is here and now, affecting quality of life and the environment, mental health and wellbeing, and how people feel about and respond to environmental issues. There is a crucial need to be effectively documenting, and monitoring these psychological impacts as well as taking action to address them.”
Populations at higher risk for poor mental health outcomes as the negative effects of climate change progress, include:
The climate and health assessment represents a coordinated effort by eight Federal agencies and more than 100 experts from across the United States to inform public health officials, urban and disaster response planners, decision makers, and other stakeholders within and outside of the government who are interested in better understanding the risks climate change presents to human health.
Professor Reser - a leading Australian environmental psychologist involved in national and international research on public risk perception, public understandings, and responses to climate change - was asked to participate in this ground-breaking research.
Link to full report: The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment
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Note to editors:
Professor Reser is available for interview
The APS is the largest professional organisation for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 21,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to people’s lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.