Podcast: The mental health consequences of climate change


Episode 12 of the Director’s Corner Podcast series:
Director Bartel Van de Walle speaks with Sanae Okamoto, researcher at UNU-MERIT

In this conversation, Bartel and Sanae discuss – among other related topics – the findings of a new report from the United Nations University Climate Resilience Initiative (titled ‘Building Climate Resilience: Lessons from the 2021 Floods in Western Europe‘), which Sanae co-authored.

Sanae Okamoto

Specifically, they touch on the following points:

🔸  how Sanae’s background in psychology and behavioural science led her towards examining the effect of climate change on mental health
🔸  the importance of considering how this phenomenon is affecting us (and is caused by us) on a micro-level as individual humans, and not only thinking about the macro-level of governments, societies and countries
🔸 eco anxiety and the feeling of ‘paralysis’ that can come from a sense of helplessness about the future of our planet, but also the solidarity that can come from opening up and sharing these feelings with others
🔸 the recommendations from the ‘Building Climate Resilience’ report on follow-up mental health support following natural disasters caused by climate change (such as severe floods)
🔸 the fact that mental health support is even less available in the Global South
🔸 the issue of mental health topics still being taboo in many countries, and how this makes it difficult to tackle these topics globally


Learn more about this topic in the ‘Building Climate Resilience: Lessons from the 2021 Floods in Western Europe‘ report, in which Sanae was co-leading the work package of ‘Individual and community preparedness and responses’.