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.
Environmental issues like climate change can bring up a wide range of feelings for people at different times. The feelings that arise are typically (though not always) uncomfortable ones, related both to the impacts of climate change and our sense of how they are being handled by people in positions of power.
Having access to a healthy environment is important for our health and wellbeing. Yet what a healthy environment means to people varies. Everyone’s unique situation and past experiences will influence their views.
In addition, when it comes to supporting healthy environments, what may be a priority for policymakers might not be important to the public. Research funders therefore face difficult decisions when deciding how to focus their work in this area.
I have spent the last 18 months encouraging effective international responses to COVID-19. I have learned that the coordinated and connected responses needed for responses to global threats are not easily achieved in today’s world. Yet unless nations can find ways to agree on the challenge, combine their responses and work willingly in synergy, success will be elusive.
Building the habit of working together is even more important when tackling climate change and its consequences. This particularly applies when exploring how changing climates affect people’s mental wellbeing.
There is indeed mounting evidence that climate change is affecting people’s minds as well as their bodies.
By IGHI guest blogger Chanice Henry, Pharma IQ
Researchers have uncovered a new drug candidate that could relieve millions of people who are under-served by current asthma treatments.
Asthma is a relatively common disease that hinders the respiration of over 300 million individuals globally, leading to episodes of wheezing, chest tightness and other severe problems.
Indeed inhalers and other medications exist to manage the disease. However, many of these manufactured treatments have critical side effects and fail to provide relief for around one-third of asthma suffers. Bronchodilator inhalers are used by the majority of asthma suffers and although effective in treating respiratory conditions there are still some gaps in understanding on how and why these inhalers work.
By Paul Huxley, Research Postgraduate, Faculty of Medicine, School of Public Health
Ronald Ross, a British medical doctor of the late-19th and early 20th centuries, was first to identify the mosquito as the winged-insect carrier of malaria-causing parasites. Prior to this breakthrough, bad air (mal aria in Italian) was thought to have been the culprit. Together, Ross and Giovanni Grassi (who’s work, unlike Ross’, was controversially ignored by the Nobel Committee in 1902) uncovered a truth of huge ecological and epidemiological significance and sparked an ongoing international research effort aimed at answering fundamental questions about the processes that drive patterns of human morbidity and mortality caused by diseases carried by mosquitoes.
By Eve MacKinnon, PhD candidate at University College London
To mark World Toilet Day on Saturday 19 November, guest blogger Eve MacKinnon takes a look at the developing innovation in sanitation.
In 2015 Google held a technology festival in South Africa aiming to develop ways to digitify billions of people in the continent, who as yet unconnected are a significant potential new market for their products and therefore hugely valuable for future growth.
By Dr Michael Templeton, Reader in Public Health Engineering
Today, Thursday 19th November, is World Toilet Day. Sadly, it is estimated that 2.5 billion people around the world still lack access to an adequate toilet. Many others rely on only basic pit latrines which eventually fill up and can become unsanitary. Many countries failed to meet their Millennium Development Goal target for access to improved sanitation, and the recently stated Sustainable Development Goals continue to emphasise improving sanitation as a key objective towards global development.
Research at Imperial College London by the group of Dr Michael Templeton in the Environmental and Water Resource Engineering section of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is investigating ways to make sanitation more sustainable and safer.
By Dr Kris Murray, Grantham Lecturer in Global Change Ecology
Our planet is ill. Ongoing loss and endangerment of species, degradation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems and their services, and man made changes to the global climate are dramatic symptoms of a major decline in the planet’s environmental health.
In glaring contrast, human health has improved, in some cases radically. Decreases in malnutrition, mortality due to infectious diseases and infant mortality rates, accompanied by substantial increases in life expectancy, can be observed in every major region of the world.
So why is health winning a war, while the environment is losing one?