Building resilience to the mental health impacts of climate change in rural Australia
Journal of Climate Change and Health
Background: Climate anxiety, and the mental health and wellbeing impacts of extreme weather-related events, are of growing concern globally. In Australia, where the current authors are based, rural communities in particular are dealing with unprecedented drought, fires and/or floods every few weeks. The mental health and wellbeing impacts of such climate change induced events are numerous and varied and operate within complex systems. However, little is known about what promotes the resilience of rural communities to these impacts. Methods: This study engaged participants from three highly impacted communities in rural New South Wales in workshops designed to explore the mental health and wellbeing impacts of climate change and ways to address it. Findings: This study shows that, from the perspective of community members, community-led collective action and planning which strengthens social and relational capital engenders feelings of belonging and increases informal social connectedness, while simultaneously supporting communities to prepare for the impacts of climate change. Conclusions: The design of strategies to mitigate the mental health and wellbeing risks from climate change may benefit from a move beyond an individual health focus to community-led and implemented collective actions that build community networks.
Open Access Status
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University of Sydney