Climate change and mental health—Time to act now

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


There is no doubt that human activities have caused the earth’s global warming, resulting in extensive and swift changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere, including rising sea levels, extreme weather events, deforestation, and stress to different ecosystems.1 These alterations are unparalleled in magnitude over numerous centuries or even thousands of years1 and may have serious implications for human health, such as kidney function loss, dermatological malignant neoplasms, pregnancy complications, allergies, and cardiovascular and pulmonary morbidity and mortality.2 These climate changes also have considerable impact on mental health through several different pathways.3 First, natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes, may directly result in increases in posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicide.3 Second, gradual changes, such as rising sea levels and temperatures, may slowly disrupt societies and can be associated with more aggression and higher suicide rates. Pollution and greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels may further exacerbate this effect. Third, climate change may indirectly affect mental health by disrupting physical and social systems, leading to economic uncertainties and migration. Finally, the rapid progression of climate change events may also affect mental health, causing climate anxiety and solastalgia.

Publication (Name of Journal)

JAMA Psychiatry