New climate and health resolution adopted to tackle $47 billion annual hit from environment-driven mental health costs

Written by Jo Harrison, Director of Communications

Governments from around the world convened at the 77th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva this week, where they adopted a resolution on climate change and health. The resolution crucially acknowledges the rising toll climate change is having on people’s physical ‘and’ mental health, as well as their well-being and livelihoods.

Climate change is already having a direct impact on people’s mental health – particularly in low and middle-income countries. A recent study in The Lancet found that for every 1°C increase in average monthly temperatures, there is a 1.5% increase in suicide incidence, and it is projected that mental health conditions resulting from climate-related hazards, air pollution and inadequate access to green space will cost the global economy $47 billion every year, by 2030.

The resolution was brought forward by Barbados, Fiji, Kenya, Monaco, the Netherlands, Peru, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. It is the first step to addressing the devastating impacts that climate change will have on our physical and mental health. 

Sarah Kline, United for Global Mental Health CEO said,

“Climate change makes extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and extreme temperatures more frequent and intense. These events are likely to have significant mental health implications both due to direct exposure to potentially traumatic events as well as by worsening social determinants of mental health such as employment and housing.” 

“We are already seeing rising suicide rates during periods of intense heat. Whilst we celebrate the inclusion of mental health into this resolution, we do so with caution. We need the ‘Plan of Action’ WHO will develop from this resolution to fully integrate mental health needs and for governments to address the mental and physical health effects of climate change.”

The World Health Organisation will convert this resolution into a ‘Plan of Action’, and civil society and organisations such as United for Global Mental Health will closely monitor member commitments to addressing mental health as a result of our changing climate. 

For more information, please contact:

Jo Harrison / Director of Communications / United for Global Mental Health


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