CACSSS researchers to host EPA funded online workshop
Addressing the mental health impacts of climate change on farmers – a cross sectoral approach
March 31st, 2022, UCC
Dr Tracey Skillington (Department of Sociology & Criminology) & Dr Annalisa Setti (School of Applied Psychology; Environmental Research Institute Research Associate) are to co-convene a workshop funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will explore the mental health impacts of climate change on farming communities in Ireland.
The Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019 notes how ‘adaptation actions should be risk-based, informed by existing vulnerabilities of our society and systems, and an understanding of projected climate change’ (p. 143). ‘Existing vulnerabilities’, research suggests, increasingly include the mental health and wellbeing impacts of climate change and related social, cultural and economic change (Lancet 2021). Yet to date these impacts have not featured as priority concerns in national or EU policy responses to climate change. One major challenge we face moving forward is determining how best the navigate the socio-emotional terrain of potentially largescale environmental breakdown (WHO, 2020) and its disruptions to traditional interactions with the natural environment, community, landscape, cultural heritage, labor, mobility, etc.
The focus so far has been largely on the impacts of climate on city living given increasing levels of urbanization worldwide, with scant attention to its socio-emotional and cultural implications. This workshop focuses specifically on how climate related changes affect Ireland’s rural farming communities. It brings together a broad range of experts, policy and farming community representatives to consider in more depth current gaps in understandings of the mental health and wellbeing implications of climate-related changes for farming communities. It will examine how existing tools measuring determinants of health might be revised to account for farmers’ lived experiences of multi-level loss (e.g., heightened stress, anxiety and depression linked to loss of livelihood, security of place, rural heritage, traditional knowledge skills, identity, biodiversity, hope for the future).
A range of resilience building, positive mental health approaches will be considered and brought into dialogue with the goals of sustainable agriculture, heritage, life on land, decent work, reduced inequalities and other community goals in ways that attempt to further the WHO’s Health in all Policies Approach and empower farmers (e.g., SDG3+, nature-based prevention, adaptation, and heritage restoration initiatives) in the hope of moving debate on the mental health risks posed by climate change more into the mainstream of policy thinking.