The Psychological Effects of Global Warming

  • National Wildlife Federation Staff
  • Mar 12, 2012
"Global warming in the coming years will foster public trauma, depression, violence, alienation, substance abuse, suicide, psychotic episodes, post-traumatic stress disorders and many other mental health-related conditions."

National Wildlife Federation convened a forum in March 2009 of professionals from the fields of psychology, mental health, national security, climate change science and policy to conduct an exploratory interdisciplinary assessment of the effects that global warming will have on the state of American public mental health and the practice and provision of mental services in the United States.

The forum sought to add information and context to an overlooked aspect of global climate change: the psychological and public mental health implications.

The resulting report, drawing from a wide body of supplemental research, assesses:

  • Most likely physical effects of climate change in the U.S.
  • Most likely psychological effects resulting from direct experiences and also from the anticipation of future harm
  • Subgroups of American Society most deeply affected
  • The cost of doing nothing or doing very little
  • The effect on the U.S. mental health care system
  • Recommendations to researchers, policy leaders, public agencies, health professionals and first responders.

Based on the recommendations of forum participants, leaders are calling for professionals in the mental health fields to focus on this, the social justice issue of all times, with their capacity to work through denial and apathy, to bring insight and commitment before it is too late.

NWF appreciates the support of the RWJ Foundation and to our forum participants.

We also note the sad death of forum participant and friend Dr. Jerilyn Ross. She added her characteristic straight talk, practical knowledge, and bright intellect to the discussion.

The Psychological Effects of Global Warming

And why the U.S. Mental Health Care System is not adequately prepared.


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