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Measuring the impact of climate change on mental health

Project Description

In 2009, The Lancet concluded that “climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century”. Since then, the impacts of climate change on human health have become increasingly well-established. The associations between changes in climate, psychological distress and mental illness are complex. Climate change will affect mental health directly, through trauma, loss and grief; as well as via indirect pathways mediated by physical health, socio-economic factors, forced migration and community well-being.

Furthermore, for many people, the existential dread of what the future holds in the face of unmitigated climate change is having documented impacts on their mental health. Mental health studies from Greenland to Australia reveal a surge in people reporting stress, anxiety or depression as a result of concerns about the climate. In acknowledgement of this experience, the American Psychological Association first defined ‘eco-anxiety’ in 2017 as “a chronic fear of environmental doom.” However, this phenomenon has not been described further and a validated assessment tool has not been developed.

This proposed PhD topic aims to:

Further define climate-related psychological distress in terms of its unique and identifying characteristics
Operationalise components of the definitional criteria in an assessment scale which will result in more consistent and reliable measurement
Produce baseline mental health data as an opportunity to improve surveillance and monitoring of mental health and promote psychosocial resilience
Guide service and policy development surrounding climate-related psychological distress.

Funding Notes

Competitively awarded PhD living stipend ($28,092 pa, 2020 rate, indexed annually); full-time, 3 years with a possible 6 months extension.

If the selected student is an International candidate, we will provide the OSHC Insurance single cover only.

To apply, follow the instructions via this link: View Website

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