The future of climate change and mental health research

Written by Alessandro Massazza

Last week, over 60 people from all over the world met in person in Bridgetown, Barbados to set a research and action agenda for climate change and mental health at the global and regional level, with the support of several hundreds people online. Attendees included researchers, funders, policymakers, advocates and people with lived experience. This was the culmination of a number of consultations involving over 800 people from over 80 countries aiming at defining the future of climate change and mental health research. 

Research on climate change and mental health is growing rapidly. However, it remains disconnected, unequal, and siloed. For example, the vast majority of research on this topic is currently conducted in high-income countries, despite people living in low- and middle-income countries being more likely to be affected by climate hazards. Similarly certain topics in this field are receiving significant amounts of attention (e.g., climate anxiety), while others, such as how people with severe mental health problems such as psychosis, are being affected by climate change – have received little attention to date.


Connecting Climate Minds is a Wellcome funded project led by Dr. Emma Lawrance at Climate Cares. It is bringing together a wide consortium of institutions across the world in trying to address the research gaps by cultivating a community of practice on a global scale to create an actionable research agenda on climate change and mental health. 

Over the next few months, the project will produce one global and seven regional research and action agendas which will allow researchers, funders, and policymakers to identify research priorities on climate change and mental health. Research agendas will:

  • Describe research priorities on (i) impacts, risks and vulnerable groups (ii) pathways and mechanisms (iii) mental health benefits of climate action such as adaptation and mitigation & (iv) mental health interventions/solutions in the context of climate change. 
  • Each agenda will also include a section on challenges and opportunities to implement the research and translate evidence into action. 

The global event in Barbados comprised a series of plenary sessions showcasing the different regional and lived experience findings as well as deep dive sessions on the global research and action agenda. 

The seven regional communities of practice launched their seven regional research and action agendas as part of the global event. All the regional agendas can be found here with different regional agendas for the following regions:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Northern Africa and West Asia
  • Central and Southern Asia
  • Eastern and South-Eastern Asia
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Oceania
  • Europe and North America


The Global Research and Action Agenda, which represents a summary of themes cutting across regions, was also discussed. This agenda is currently being finalised and will be published soon. 

The event centred on the lived experience of people living with and responding to the mental health challenges of climate change. The Connecting Climate Minds project collected a vast amount of lived experience stories and insights which can all be found here. These range from how drought is making farmers feel more stressed in Kenya to how heatwaves are impacting people with severe mental health problems attending day centres in Germany or how extreme weather events such as mudslides are negatively impacting mental health in Kyrgyzstan, among many other lived experiences. 


As part of the global event, the Connecting Climate Minds Hub was launched. This Hub has been designed to be a repository of materials on climate change and mental health; and the go to space for climate change and mental health research, as well as a platform for connecting with other stakeholders interested in this space.

Robust data and research on the intersection between climate change and mental health is fundamental for evidence-based policy and advocacy efforts. We know enough about how climate change is impacting mental health in order to start acting now. Better research and understanding will however, allow us to act in a more targeted and effective manner to ensure everyone, everywhere has someone to turn to in support of their mental health, even in the context of a changing climate. 

There are many ways in which you can get involved in the Connecting Climate Minds project. Read more about opportunities for involvement here