Climate Change and Mental Health: Insights from Connecting Climate Minds’ First Regional Dialogues 

Villagers pray for their family members at a flooded public cemetery due to rising sea levels. Often, residents live with the seawater, as homes are commonly flooded. Sayung subdistrict, Demak, Central Java, Indonesia.
Photo credit: Aji Styawan / Getty Images Climate Visuals Grant recipient


As climate change continues to reshape our world, it’s not just landscapes that are transforming; the mental health of communities worldwide is also on the line. Over the past month, Connecting Climate Minds has been uniting global experts, researchers, and stakeholders in the diverse fields relevant to climate change and/or mental health from across the world. These discussions transcend borders, bringing together experts from seven regions of the world: Latin America and the Caribbean; Sub-Saharan Africa; Northern Africa and Western Asia; Central and South-Eastern Asia; Eastern and South-Eastern Asia; Oceania; and Europe and North America. The current field of mental health and climate change are disconnected and siloed, which reflects an urgent need to align research and action at the intersection of these two fields. The Connecting Climate Minds’ project aims to address this gap, with the goal of creating an actionable research agenda informed by lived experiences, while also connecting communities of practice across the globe. This agenda will capture the vast diversity of regions and groups of people that are affected by the climate crisis, allowing for an inclusive and comprehensive outline for future researchers, with investment and action from policymakers and relevant stakeholders.

The current field of mental health and climate change are disconnected and siloed, which reflects an urgent need to align research and action at the intersection of these two fields.


The first dialogues proved to be a stunning success, with a total of 288 attendees representing 42 different countries across the world. This impressive turnout reflects the pressing need for collaborative efforts to address climate change and the enthusiasm among experts to contribute their knowledge and skills to this global challenge. Each dialogue kicked off with a dynamic plenary session followed by breakout rooms, where lived experiences and on-ground stories were shared from attendees. The breakout rooms consisted of a variety of different perspectives, including medical practitioners, public health and psychology researchers, climate experts, economists, anthropologists, clinical professionals, disaster management personnel, and beyond. A few groups represented at the dialogue include the president of the Jordanian Association of Psychiatrists, United Nation Youth Delegates, and senior leaders within the World Health Organization (WHO).

Attendees shared personal stories and experiences related to climate change, underscoring the real-world impacts of the crisis on individuals and communities. One attendee from Afghanistan shared, “People lose their assets, their livestock, and people are getting injured, killed, especially when flash floods occur at night. Just recently, a few months back, there were flash floods in nine or ten provinces. We had around 20, 29 people dead, and then more than a hundred injured. That caused a huge level of anxiety in the households that lost their relatives.”  Another attendee from South Africa shared,  “We are all impacted by climate change. And people with money have insurance and can survive. But the rest of the population loses everything.” These lived experiences served as a powerful reminder of the urgency of the interplay between climate change and mental health. From the diverse array of perspectives shared, a rich tapestry of themes and discussions emerged from the breakout sessions.

Some of the notable themes include:

  • Socioemotional stress: With extreme weather changes, people may be prevented from seeing their family members and friends, and children may not be able to go to school. Increased social isolation leads to detrimental effects on mental health and wellbeing.
  • Economic impacts: Temperature and drought affects farmers, as well as the physical and cognitive demand of workers. In the long term, changes in the environment have led to significant food insecurity amongst communities.
  • Community Resilience: There is a pressing need to provide culturally-sensitive and accessible psychosocial support for people who have suffered disasters or other impacts from climate change. Long-term support is necessary to build community resilience in the face of environmental change and disaster.
  • Context-Specific Research: Each region has different needs and varied mechanisms by which climate change affects mental health. Thus, research priorities are not a “one size fits all” solution–instead, it should be context specific and informed by lived experiences.


The first Connecting Climate Minds dialogue is only the start of the collective effort to align research and action at the intersection of climate change and mental health. Participants at the dialogues expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to have their stories heard and collaborate with experts from different disciplines. 

One attendee noted, “I had the opportunity to unburden my heart. Many thanks for creating this space to inspire change and action.” 


Looking ahead, there are one more dialogues scheduled in the coming months for each of the seven global regions. The aims of the first dialogues were to create knowledge through research, and to foster evidence-based policy and action. Attendees will continue to work together to refine the research priorities that have been identified from these dialogues. Through collaboration, each region will build an inclusive research agenda and actionable plan aimed at addressing the nexus of mental health and climate change within their respective communities. Furthermore, pre- and post-dialogue surveys will be conducted to gather insights from attendees, such as their perception of themes identified in the dialogues and their views on what criteria can be used to prioritize future research.

It’s safe to say that the first Connecting Climate Minds Regional Dialogue represents a significant step forward in the global effort to combat climate change through knowledge- sharing, collaboration, and structured discussion. As we move forward, the goal remains clear: to work together, across disciplines and generations, to build an equitable research framework in the face of climate change for the people of our planet.


Connecting Climate Minds is funded by Wellcome and delivered through Imperial Projects.

Our global project team brings together experts across Imperial College London, the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, the Climate Mental Health NetworkSustyVibesForce of NatureSt Luke’s Medical Center, The Planetary Health Alliance, Jordan Health Aid Society International, BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH), Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR), The University of Queensland (UQ), the University of the West Indies and Claretian University of Nigeria.

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