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Prevalence and determinants of mental health related to climate change in Australia

Version 2 2024-06-02, 14:32
Version 1 2023-02-09, 22:15
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-02, 14:32 authored by Rebecca PatrickRebecca Patrick, Tristan SnellTristan Snell, H Gunasiri, R Garad, G Meadows, J Enticott
Aims: The climate emergency will likely prove this century’s greatest threat to public health within which mental health effects need consideration. While studies consistently show the majority of Australians are very concerned about the impacts of climate change, there is limited evidence from nation-wide research linking climate change with mental health burden in sub-populations. This study aimed to understand the impact of climate change on mental health in the Australian population and identify populations who are most at risk of climate-related mental health burden. Methods: A nation-wide Australian survey conducted between August and November 2020 of adults was approximately representative across sex, age, location, state and area disadvantage. Two-stage recruitment involved unrestricted self-selected community sample through mainstream and social media ( N = 4428) and purposeful sampling using an online panel ( N = 1055). Results: Most Australians report having a direct experience of a climate change–related event. Young people are experiencing significant rates of eco-anxiety. One in four people with direct experience of a climate change–related event met post-traumatic stress disorder screening criteria. People who have not had a direct experience are showing symptoms of pre-trauma, particularly in younger age groups and women. There were 9.37% (503/5370) of respondents with responses indicating significant eco-anxiety, 15.68% (370/2359) with pre-traumatic stress and 25.60% (727/2840) with post-traumatic stress disorder. Multivariable regressions confirmed that younger people are more affected by eco-anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (pre- or post-trauma); women are more affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (pre- or post-trauma) and those from more disadvantaged regions are more affected by eco-anxiety. Conclusion: Australia is facing a potential mental health crisis. Individuals with and without direct experience of climate change are reporting significant mental health impacts, with younger age groups being disproportionately affected. There are key roles for clinicians and other health professionals in responding to and preventing climate-related mental health burden.

History

Journal

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry

Volume

57

Pagination

710-724

Location

London, Eng.

ISSN

0004-8674

eISSN

1440-1614

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Issue

5

Publisher

SAGE Publications

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