Why mental health is a priority for action against climate change

The new WHO policy statement highlights actions for the countries

Climate change poses a serious risk to mental health and well-being, concludes the new WHO policy statement launched today at the Stockholm + 50 conference. The Organization therefore urges States to include support for mental health in their response to the climate crisis, citing examples in which several pioneering countries have done so effectively.

The findings are in line with a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in February this year. The IPPC has revealed that rapidly growing climate change poses a growing threat to mental health and psychosocial well-being; from emotional stress to anxiety, depression, grief and suicidal behavior.

“The impact of climate change is increasingly part of our daily lives and there is very little specialized mental health support available to people and communities who deal with climate hazards and long-term risks,” they said. dr Maria NeiraDirector of the WHO, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health.

The impact of climate change on mental health is unevenly distributed, with some groups disproportionately affected depending on factors such as socio-economic status, gender and age. However, it is clear that climate change is affecting many of the social determinants, which are already placing enormous burdens on mental health worldwide. A 2021 WHO study in 95 countries found that only 9 have so far included mental health and psychosocial support in their national health and climate change plans.

“The impact of climate change is exacerbating the already extremely challenging situation for mental health and mental health services worldwide. “There are nearly 1 billion people living with mental illness, but in low- and middle-income countries, 3 out of 4 do not have access to the necessary services,” they said. swallowed Kestel, Director of the WHO, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. “By increasing mental health and psychosocial support in the context of disaster risk reduction and climate action, countries can do more to help protect the most vulnerable.”

The new WHO Policy Statement recommends five important approaches for governments to address the effects of climate change on mental health:

  • Integrate climate considerations with mental health programs
  • Integrate mental health support with climate action
  • Build on global commitments
  • Develop community – based approaches to reduce vulnerabilities and
  • Closing the major funding gap that exists for mental health and psychosocial support

“WHO member states have made it clear that mental health is a priority for them. “We work closely with countries to protect people’s physical and mental health from climate threats,” they said. dr Diarmid Campbell-LandrumWHO Climate Leader and IPCC Lead Author.

There are some good examples of how this can be done, such as in the Philippines, which has rebuilt and improved its mental health services since Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, or in India, where a national project has increased risk reduction. disasters in the country while preparing cities to respond to climate risks and address mental health and psychosocial needs.

The Stockholm Conference marks the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and recognizes the importance of environmental determinants for both physical and mental health.

Note to the editors

The WHO defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which each individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the stresses of life, can work productively and productively, and is able to contribute to himself or her community.”

The WHO defines mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) as “any type of local or external support aimed at protecting or promoting psychosocial well-being and / or preventing or treating a mental disorder”.

For more information, please contact:

WHO media inquiries: [email protected]

Leave a Comment