Editorial: The climate and ecological mental health emergency – evidence and action
Ann Sanson & Bernadka Dubicka
No previous generation of children has grown up in the context of an existential threat comparable to the climate crisis. This Special Issue examines the implications of the climate crisis for children and young people in relation to their mental health and well-being, and, as a corollary, the implications for mental health professionals. Evidence is accumulating on the prevalence of worry among children world-wide, as well as on the direct impacts of the climate crisis on mental health. Despite the huge threat that this crisis poses for the next generation’s mental health and well-being, and the recognition that this is now a global mental health emergency, there has been surprisingly little research on the topic. We therefore saw the urgent need to draw together a wide range of original research and perspectives and to consider what this mean for professionals who have dedicated themselves to improving the well-being of children and young people.
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Professor Bernadka Dubicka is a Consultant Psychiatrist at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, Honorary Professor at the University of Manchester, and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Child and Adolescent Mental Health. She is the former Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) Child and Adolescent Faculty, where she played a leading role in developing the eco-CAMHS group; contributed to the RCPsych position statement on the ecological crisis; and has commissioned a special issue of CAMH on the ecological crisis (Feb 2022) with invited editor, Dr Ann Sanson. She attended COP26 in Glasgow as an RCPsych observer.
Professor Ann Sanson is a developmental psychologist whose research has principally focused on understanding the role of child, family and community characteristics in social and emotional development from infancy to adulthood, with a recent focus on positive development. She has been a principal investigator on major Australian longitudinal studies for over 30 years and is an advisor to several international longitudinal studies. She has also had an ongoing engagement with the contributions of psychology to social issues: e.g. as the Australian Psychological Society’s inaugural Director of Social Issues, as a founder of its Psychology for Peace Interest Group, and as Co-Chair of the international Committee for the Psychological Study of Peace. Her current work focuses on the impact of the climate crisis on current and future generations of children. She is an Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne, and a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development. She has over 200 publications.