Yesterday I was invited to attend a virtual dialogue and the start of a community of practice looking at climate change and mental health. The dialogue was part of a year-long Wellcome Trust-funded global project – Connecting Climate Minds – which aims to catalyse research and action at the nexus of climate change and mental health. The project is hosting dialogues in different regions all over the world to draw from as wide a range of experiences as possible.
The event I took part in included over 50 people from all around Australia and the Pacific with a goal to start developing a research and action agenda addressing key gaps in understanding the links between climate change and mental health. The next dialogue in October will start looking at actionable ways forward which will feed into global spaces such as COP28 and the World Health Assembly.
It was so interesting to hear from others about their experiences and knowledge from working and being personally impacted from climate change. It’s clear that climate change impacts are only gathering pace as are the impacts on people’s wellbeing – and there are some big research gaps. I think the global co-learning approach of this project is a positive way forward. If you’re interested in keeping up with this project, please fill in the contact form or send an email to the project manager (Suhailah Ali at email@example.com).
One topic that came up was positive adaptions to climate change, empowering people and the messaging associated with that. We are seeing this approach to some extent in agricultural projects that focus on providing the tools and promoting strategies for producers to take control and proactively make on-farm decisions around future climate impacts such as drought.
These practice focused projects and programs are important however, I’m wondering if there might be an opportunity to more overtly include social and wellbeing outcomes? For example, as part of my PhD research, Australian farming women indicated that they experienced a positive impact on their wellbeing as a result of taking action to change farming practices to better deal with climate extremes – particularly drought. How can links between taking action in relation climate impacts and improving mental health be better made in the rural and agricultural space? If this could be done, would it encourage more on farm climate adaptations? I’d be interested to hear what you think (firstname.lastname@example.org).