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Mental Impacts of Climate Change Mental Impacts of Climate Change and motivation for climate change adaptation

A growing number of international research results show not only that extreme weather events in particular lead to an increase in depression and post-traumatic stress disorders, but also that gradual changes in climatic conditions such as rising temperatures and reduced air quality have a negative impact on mental health. In addition, there is growing evidence that a significant proportion of people may exhibit harmful levels of anxiety related to their perceptions of climate change.

To date, there has been little research into the mental health impacts caused by climate change in Germany and what strategies can be used to increase mental resilience to these impacts. Since data on the mental health effects of climate change are essential from a preventive, social, health and economic point of view, they are to be collected in the project "Mental Effects of Climate Change”, funded by the German Environmental Agency.

The aim of the project is accordingly to carry out a representative survey of the mental health impacts of climate change in the German population aged 16 and over, based on an analysis of international publications in the subject area. Three population groups that may have an increased risk of mental health impacts from climate change are given special consideration: (1) people with pre-existing mental illnesses; (2) people who are directly or indirectly confronted with the consequences of climate change as a result of their professional activity; (3) people who are or will be particularly affected by the consequences of climate change due to their geographical location (e.g. in areas at risk of flooding). Furthermore, data on climate change-related risk perception, behaviour to adapt to climate change and resilience factors are recorded and evaluated using statistical methods.

Then, based on the existing international literature, the collected survey data and expert interviews, a self-help guide will be developed that contains recommendations for strengthening mental resilience to climate change.

This is also intended to contribute to the German adaptation strategy to climate change, which describes the protection of human health from the consequences of climate change as a field of action and sets the goal of strengthening people's resilience to the health consequences of climate change.

IÖW Project Team