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Climate trauma: the growing toll of climate change on the mental health of Australians

Climate change Extreme weather events Disasters Mental health Australia

Every Australian is being impacted by climate change. Whether we’ve paid exorbitant prices for produce at the supermarket, choked our way through bushfire smoke blanketing our communities, faced evacuations during dangerous extreme weather events, or lost our homes in a bushfire or flood, life as we know it is being disrupted in many ways.

In December 2022, with support from Beyond Blue, the Climate Council set about building a clearer picture of the impact of climate change on the mental health of Australians. Over the years, there have been many stories of the profound mental health toll that events like the 2019-2020 Black Summer fires and 2022 east coast floods have taken on Australian communities.

The overall message from this study is simple: stronger action on climate change is fundamental to promoting the mental health and wellbeing of not only Australians, but of communities all over the world.

Key findings:

  • Floods, bushfires and other extreme weather events – made worse by climate change – are taking a heavy toll on the mental health of Australians.
  • Communities across Australia are reporting mental health challenges as a result of worsening extreme weather events. The situation is particularly tough for rural and regional Australians.
  • Rising insurance premiums are increasing the burden and making it harder for Australians to protect themselves against worsening extreme weather disasters.
  • Stronger action on climate change - both to reduce emissions and to support communities coping with the impacts that can no longer be avoided - is fundamental to protecting the mental wellbeing of Australians.
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