Climate change is a global threat with well documented health consequences. Recent research has begun to examine climate change’s emotional consequences as well. Climate change disproportionately affects indigenous and low socioeconomic status communities, and the same is true of climate change’s emotional consequences. While the mental health effects of direct exposure to effects of climate change have been well explored recent research suggests that climate change can have indirect effects too. These indirect effects are often described as climate anxiety, a form of dread caused by ecological change. The goal of the current review was to provide an in-depth exploration of the mental health effects of climate change and to demonstrate the importance of addressing both the mental and physical consequences of climate change. Low levels of climate anxiety are adaptive but in extremes can be pathological. Low levels of climate anxiety correlate with increased environmental actions but high levels are linked to paralysis. Government actions to mitigate climate change are essential to addressing climate anxiety, however action by mental health practitioners is important as well. Community and nature-based treatment is promising, however systematic change is the only true path forward. It is essential that moving forward both the mental and physical health effects are considered when developing measures to mitigate damage caused by climate change.

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Student Type


Department, Program, or Center

Psychology (CLA)


RIT – Main Campus

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2023 recipient of the Henry and Mary Kearse Writing Award