Climate change and Mental health links discussed in a new report by the Department of Health

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There is no health without mental health (World Health Organisation)

A new report was released by the Department of health as part of a continuing programme of action to improve the mental health and well-being of the whole population, and it builds on new horizons which is the national vision for mental health in England for 2010 and beyond. The ‘New horizons Confident communities, brighter futures A framework for developing wellbeing’ document highlights the benefits of improving mental health and well-being to individuals, communities and society, and acknowledges that the concerns about the environment and sustainable development have generated further interest in well-being. It draws on a review of the published literature and provides a summary of health benefits of sustainability (including green spaces), building on previous reviews.

‘New horizons’ has described the public mental health framework and includes a number of dimensions including a life course approach, building strength, safety and resilience, developing sustainable connected communities, integrating physical and mental health and promoting purpose and participation. Sustainability and climate change cross-cuts across all these domains.

This report describes how climate-related events can affect the resilience and a sense of safety and security at individual and community level. It describes the evidence that flooding in homes can result in increase in risk of psychological distress. Therefore environmental resilience that includes adapting to the effects of climate change and adverse events (such as flooding, heat waves) and sustainable developments that promotes a healthy environment to support the well-being of the population are important. Sustainable interventions that promote mental health and well being include insulating homes, healthy eating, active transport and access to green spaces.

Also discussed is the importance of increasing availability and access to green spaces and engagement with the environment to benefit the mental and physical health and well-being. There is evidence that it increases the strength of community indicators, increased social activity and social capital, promotes social integration and cohesion, increases perception of community strength and pride, interaction and increases physical activity. The report also describes evidence that safe, green spaces and estate regeneration can reduce crime and violence.

This report sets out the argument and evidence base for prioritising well-being, and provides a systematic approach to improving mental well-being with selected evidence-based approaches and interventions that have been shown to be effective across the life course, and across key public health domains. It takes an ecological approach by enhancing the connections that exist between individuals, their communities and the wider environment. It acknowledges that interventions relating to sustainable development and climate change are important and integral to good physical and mental health and well-being of the population.

It is expected that further reports will follow that will expand and explore the evidence base and interventions, and further advice and guidance will be provided on how to implement improvements in public mental health and well-being.

For more details and to see the report, click the following link.

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