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  • March 19, 2024

Mental health impacts of climate change must be addressed, say experts

People around the world are experiencing mental health challenges caused or worsened by the climate crisis yet research and action to date has been siloed, unequal and disconnected.

At the first ever global gathering to focus specifically on mental health and climate change, experts with backgrounds in research, policy and practice, and people with lived experience will present agendas for priority research and action at the intersection of climate change and mental health.

The climate crisis and mental health are two of the greatest challenges of our time. The Connecting Climate Minds project, led by the Climate Cares Centre at Imperial College London and funded by Wellcome, has worked with a wide global network to identify research and action priorities where new evidence will best support changes in policy and practice in climate and mental health. At the event speakers will call for an aligned set of actions for regions in each of the seven Sustainable Development Goal regions.

Connecting Climate Minds

The Wellcome-funded project, Connecting Climate Minds, delivered through Imperial Projects, has created transdisciplinary communities in regions around the world and used dialogues to align research and action at the intersection of climate change and mental health that can better protect people and the planet.

The Global Event, taking place 19-21 March in Barbados and online, is the culmination of a year’s work to cultivate a connected, supported, and engaged community of practice on a global scale to create an actionable research agenda and hear insights from people living the experiences of the climate crisis, including young people, Indigenous Peoples, small farmers and fisher peoples.

Barbados is profoundly affected by rising sea levels, like other island nations, and the increase of sargassum seaweed, both directly linked to climate change. In person participants will do a fieldtrip to explore these issues on 20 March.

Participants of the Global Event will refine a Global Research and Action Agenda for Climate Change and Mental Health, and plan its launch and implementation.

Connecting Climate Minds is one of the projects led by the Institute of Global Health Innovation’s Climate Cares Centre at Imperial College London, with an aim to understand and respond to the interconnections between climate change and mental health.

Bridging gaps

The Connecting Climate Minds project is unique in developing a global, aligned vision for climate change and mental health, connecting communities across disciplines, sectors and countries. To do this, seven global development regions hosted regional dialogues to bring out the mental health impacts of climate change from around the world. Drawing together the findings of the dialogues, the research priorities have been identified and will be formally published later this year.

Key outputs of the work include:

  • A series of 35 videos that showcase the experiences of people living with the impacts of climate change around the world
  • Regional and thematic agendas for climate and mental health research and action
  • Case studies that capture the diversity of emerging work in this field, particularly in the Global South
  • Toolkits that:1) support researchers coming into the climate and mental health space from diverse disciplines; 2) help humanitarian actors to support people experiencing climate-related mental health impacts, and 3) provide guidance on meaningful lived experience engagement

See the outputs on the Global Online Hub.

Connecting Climate Minds has built a global community and shared vision for climate change and mental health research and action. A digital hub for the case studies, insights, resources and a means to connect people working in the fields of mental health and climate change is launched today, 19 March, at

Dr Emma Lawrance, Lead Policy Fellow for Mental Health, Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London, and Connecting Climate Minds Lead, said:“The Connecting Climate Minds Global Event recognises the growing importance of the climate and mental health field. Over the past year, strong communities of practice have grown by centring the value of listening to and learning from people with diverse backgrounds and expertise, including by lived experience.

“The development of our Global Research and Action Agenda represents a step change in the field of climate change and mental health. I am excited to celebrate the communities and insights that have emerged from many hours of open dialogue. Together we are rising to the dual challenges of the climate crisis and mental distress to focus efforts that protect mental health while enabling climate action.”

Professor Sir David Nabarro, Co-Director, IGHI said:“Connecting Climate Minds is making a vital and meaningful contribution through bringing together work on mental health and climate change. The energy from this collaboration is inspiring. A vital area for joint action is emerging. Siloes are being dismantled. I look forward to what is to come.

“This work has been made possible because Wellcome identified its importance and provided generous financial support. For this we are most grateful.”

Madeleine Thomson, Head of Climate Impacts and Adaptation at Wellcome, said:“Climate change is impacting people’s mental health, but there is a lot we still don’t know about the connection between climate change and mental health and how we can best protect people.

“This event is the first major step to help filling in those gaps. By bringing scientists and frontline communities together, we hope to create the solutions needed to protect mental health in a changing climate.”

Ambassador Gillian Bristol, Project Team Lead for Latin America and the Caribbean and Director; Latin-American-Caribbean Centre (LACC), University of the West Indies said:“Vulnerabilities to climate change span the globe, making lives difficult and extremely challenging for people everywhere. The developing countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are similarly affected and research conducted during this Connecting Climate Minds project has highlighted the nature and scope of the risk to mental health in our region. It is welcome attention to an often overlooked social issue.

“We look forward to engaging with public policy-makers on our findings and call for urgently needed measures, with the support of the international community, to mitigate the effect of climate change on the mental health of our citizens and improve lives overall.”

Dr Marina Romanello, Executive Director, Lancet Countdown, said:

“The mental health impacts of climate change can be devastating. However, they are often misunderstood, and grossly overlooked. I am delighted to see Connecting Climate Minds helping close this knowledge gap, and helping deliver the evidence to inform a response to climate change that truly protects people’s health (physical – and mental!)”

Professor Pamela Collins, Bloomberg Centennial Professor and Chair of the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said:“Connecting Climate Minds is a timely and creative effort that joins the communities that represent two global public health priorities: mental health and climate change. I have been impressed with this large team’s commitment to integrating a diversity of viewpoints from people around the world to generate a relevant and innovative research agenda. The need is urgent, and I look forward to seeing how we move from agenda to action!”


About Connecting Climate Minds

Connecting Climate Minds is a global, Wellcome-funded project to develop an aligned and inclusive agenda for research and action on climate change and mental health, grounded in the needs of those with lived experience of mental health challenges in the context of climate change. Connecting Climate Minds brings together expertise from research, policy, design, and lived experiences from across the globe.

The Climate Cares team, headed by Dr Emma Lawrance, works with a fantastic coalition of organisations including the International Red Cross Red Crescent Climate CentreSustyvibesForce of Nature, the Climate Mental Health Network and international experts from around the world across our seven Regional Communities of Practice.