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SFU-led research alliance hosts conference to examine mental health impacts of climate change
VANCOUVER/COAST SALISH TERRITORIES – A research group based in British Columbia is inviting youth, researchers, concerned citizens, and community organizations to join the conversation about how to identify and address the negative impacts of climate change on mental health.
The Summit on Mental Health and Climate Change is a free, two-day online event taking place February 2 -3, 2023. Event organizers – the Mental Health and Climate Change Alliance (MHCCA) – have invited more than 20 presenters from across the globe to speak on topics ranging from case studies linking environmental changes and mental health outcomes to eco-anxiety.
“Climate change will impact every environment in Canada,” says Kiffer Card, co-chair for the Summit and assistant professor at Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Health Sciences (SFU FHS). “We are already seeing these changes. As such, it’s no surprise that the effects of climate change on mental health are among the first consequences we are seeing to health.”
The MHCCA is not the only group concerned about the impact of climate change on mental health. In a recent report, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam noted that negative mental health impacts, such as worry, grief, anxiety, anger, hopelessness, and fear are linked to climate change. “[The] focus on health must extend to climate change research, which requires new opportunities to integrate knowledge across disciplines that reflects the complex and multi-faceted challenges posed by climate change,” says Tam.
This event will be the second Summit on Mental Health and Climate Change to be held. The inaugural event – hosted in 2021 by Card, and fellow FHS professors Maya Gislason, Tim Takaro, and Robert Hogg – drew more than 120 participants, and eventually led to research describing the effects of the 2021 Western North American Heat Dome, which found that climate change anxiety of British Columbians increased by approximately 13 per cent after the record-breaking heatwave.
“Many people underestimate the extent to which their environments impact their wellbeing,” observes Card. “However, we know that the social and ecological environment in which you live is at least as important as whether you have a primary care provider [in terms of individual health outcomes].”
Registration for the summit is free, and open to all interested persons. To participate, register online by January 27, 2023. Meeting details will be sent to registrants after this date.
Kiffer Card, Assistant Professor, SFU | firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-Chair, The Summit on Mental Health and Climate Change
About the Mental Health on Climate Change Alliance
Established in 2021, the Mental Health and Climate Change Alliance is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that brings together a community of interdisciplinary researchers, healthcare providers, and community organizers committed to identifying and addressing the adverse impacts of the climate crisis on mental health.
The MHCCA has a mission to (1) conduct equity-based climate distress monitoring, (2) incubate novel interventions and policy ideas to address the mental health impacts of climate change, and (3) facilitate knowledge exchange and mobilization to support Canadian's experiencing climate-related ecological distress.