Leading mental health researchers are warning that some of the most important health consequences of climate change will be on mental health, yet this issue is unlikely to be given much attention at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen next week.
Dr Lisa Page and Dr Louise Howard from the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) at King's College London reviewed a range of recent research by scientists into the potential mental health impacts of climate change.
In an article published in Psychological Medicine online, the two mental health experts conclude that climate change has the potential to have significant negative effects on global mental health. These effects will be felt most by those with pre-existing serious mental illness, but that there is also likely to be an increase in the overall burden of mental disorder worldwide.
The scientists urge for the lack of research into the mechanisms that cause the effects of climate change on mental disorder to be addressed, so that mental health policy makers can plan for the significant impacts of climate change on mental health that are to be expected.
Dr Page, lead author of the article and Clinical Lecturer in Liaison Psychiatry at the IoP, comments: 'Climate change is assuming centre stage with the upcoming UN conference in Copenhagen. While delegates will discuss the effects of climate change and possible responses by the international governments, we fear that the effects of climate change on mental health will be largely ignored, posing a tremendous risk to the mental health of millions of people in the not-too-distant future.'
Dr Page and Dr Howard identified the following ways in which climate change is likely to impact mental health:
|Contact: Melanie Haberstroh|
King's College London