Some 84% of UK citizens believe that the effects of the climate crisis will be as damaging to mental health by 2030 as unemployment or even the pandemic, a new survey shows.
The survey, undertaken by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, polled more than 2,000 adults across the country, reports the Express & Star. “The disruption to life posed by the climate and ecological emergencies presents an unprecedented threat to our health in the UK and worldwide,” said Royal College President Adrian James.
A full 60% of survey respondents said they believe the climate crisis is harming their mental health right now, the Express writes. Calling the situation a “mental health emergency,” James said it is important to understand that “our mental health is entwined with the health of our natural world.”
Strikingly, only 22% of those surveyed said they recognize a connection between climate and ecological emergencies and the appearance of COVID-19. That figure speaks to a low level of understanding that, beyond fuelling the climate crisis, the erosion of the natural world is also brewing conditions ever more ideal for zoonotic pathogens to leap the weakening barrier between the natural and human worlds.
In the face of increasing food insecurity, extreme weather, and up to 36,000 people already dying each year from the health impacts of air pollution in the UK, James told the Express the Royal College is “calling for urgent action and declar[ing] a climate and ecological emergency to avert a health and mental health catastrophe.”
Dr. Lisa Page, associate registrar for sustainability at the Royal College, confirmed that “the knock-on effects of climate change and biodiversity loss” will affect mental health worldwide.
“If action isn’t taken, the physical and psychological consequences will manifest in poorer health outcomes in the UK and overseas,” she told the Express.