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Worrying about climate change: is it responsible to promote public debate?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Helen L. Berry
ANU Climate Change Institute, The Australian National University, Australia Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Australia, email
Dominic Peel
Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Australia
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Some fear that provoking widespread worry about climate change may harm mental health. The Regional Wellbeing Survey, a large study of health, well-being and life in rural and regional Australia, examined climate change worry and attitudes. Most respondents were worried about climate change and agreed that fossil fuel use causes global warming, but there was no evidence to suggest that worry about climate change is linked to mental health in the general population. Respectful, calm, considered public debate about how to respond to climate change is unlikely to be harmful to population mental health. Individually focused clinical approaches are unlikely to be effective as a primary approach in managing the mental health impacts of climate change. Instead, collective, systems-based approaches will be needed.

Thematic papers: Mental health and climate change
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Copyright © Royal College of Psychiatrists 2015


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