The Latin American-Caribbean Centre (LACC) of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) hosted an inaugural regional dialogue on the impact of climate change on mental health on August 23.
Researchers, experts and stakeholders with personal experience on the effects of climate change gathered from across Latin America and the Caribbean for the virtual forum, held under the ground-breaking, global project, ‘Connecting Climate Minds’. This project, which seeks to address the often-overlooked link between climate change and mental health, aims to produce an inclusive and actionable research agenda for the emerging field.
Connecting Climate Minds has created a global research community of practice, harnessing experts from seven regions of the world: Latin America and the Caribbean; Sub-Saharan Africa; Northern Africa and Western Asia; Central and South-Eastern Asia; Eastern and South-Eastern Asia; Oceania; and Europe and North America. The dialogues foster a collaboration across this diverse global group to create an aligned vision and connected community of practice for research at the climate change and mental health nexus. Experts working in these fields come from Imperial College London, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, Climate Mental Health Network, SustyVibes, Force of Nature, St Luke’s Medical Center and Claretian University, together with The University of the West Indies.
Representing The UWI are researchers, Dr. Sandeep Maharaj and Dr. Natalie Greaves, along with Ambassador Gillian Bristol, Director of LACC, who served as Project Lead, heading the dialogues in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
According to Ambassador Bristol, “Climate change and mental health are recognised as two of the greatest global challenges the region faces. Their interconnections pose challenges and risks to citizens’ health and well-being and demand proactive and informed leadership. Attention to the mental health impacts of the climate crisis has grown rapidly in the past year, yet the climate and mental health space remains fragmented. While there has been progress in some places, critical gaps remain in others. This is a crucial time for the multi-disciplinary climate and mental health communities to come together to develop a research agenda that leads to policy change that meets the needs of affected people throughout the world”.