Three Reasons Why Expecting ‘Recovery’ in the Context of the Mental Health Impacts of Climate Change Is Problematic

Publication Name

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


Global warming is bringing with it continued long-term changes in the climate system. Extreme weather-related events, which are already becoming a daily reality around the world, are predicted to be more intense and frequent in the future. The widespread occurrence of these events and climate change more broadly are being experienced collectively and at scale and do not affect populations evenly. These climate changes have profound impacts on mental health and wellbeing. Existing reactive responses include frequent implied and direct references to the concept of ‘recovery’. This is problematic in three ways: it conceives of extreme weather events as single, one-off occurrences; implies their unexpected nature; and contains an integral assumption of an end point where individuals/communities are ‘recovered’. Models of mental health and wellbeing support (including funding) need to change, shifting away from ‘recovery’ towards a focus on adaptation. We argue that this presents a more constructive approach that may be used to collectively support communities.

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