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New report: The growing toll of climate change on the mental health of Australians

A landmark study into the mental health toll of compounding and worsening climate change has uncovered widespread distress as Australians grapple with more destructive and deadly disasters and rising insurance premiums.

The Climate Council’s Climate Trauma: the growing toll of climate change on the mental health of Australians  found extreme weather events made worse by climate change are taking a “heavy toll on the mental health of Australians”.

In December 2022, with support from Beyond Blue, the Climate Council set about building a clearer picture of the impact of climate change on the mental health of Australians. The study of 2,508 people included direct testimony from Lismore and Northern New South Wales residents and hundreds of people who’d experienced disasters from across the country.

The report found that communities across the country were reporting mental health challenges as a result of worsening extreme weather events, which was particularly tough for rural and regional Australians.

People living in rural and regional areas were significantly more likely to have been affected by flooding at least once since 2019 (61% versus 38% in cities), and bushfires (49% versus 36%).

They had found it harder to access mental health support and were more likely to say state emergency services and state governments were poorly equipped to deal with climate disasters.

Dr Simon Bradshaw, a report author and Research Director at the Climate Council, said:

“Decades of scientific research have taught us a lot about the physical risks of climate change, but far less attention has been paid to the impact of climate change on our mental health.

“Hundreds of courageous Australians have contributed their stories and insights to this landmark study. The results highlight the devastating toll that climate change is having on the mental health of our communities, and uncover many practical steps we should be taking. They show that stronger action on climate change is fundamental to protecting the mental wellbeing of Australians.”


For support please contact Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36 or explore the Phoenix Australia’s Disaster Mental Health Hub online or check in with your GP or local mental health services.

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