Well-being and ecosocial crisis: Youth perceptions on mental health and climate change

Project lead: Juan Manuel Zaragoza Bernal, University of Murcia

Participating universities: University of Birmingham, University of Murcia, Nantes Université

General Overview

To better understand how climate change impacts on wellbeing, this project, carried out by an international and transdisciplinary group, aims to use a novel methodology that combines practices from the humanities, social sciences and participatory arts to explore emotional reactions to the local eco-social impacts of the climate crisis. Partners will work together to analyse emotional responses to climate change from the perspective of everyday lived experiences or ‘lived connection’ with the local environment. 

Purpose and Significance

The reality of climate change has hit globally in the form of more intense and frequent extreme weather events, both in the global South and the global North. Examples are heat waves across Europe, sixth-generation fires in the Mediterranean and Canada, and warnings of a possible slowdown or even shutdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). The psychological impact of these events, some extreme and violent, others slow and almost invisible, is becoming increasingly apparent, and their study is beginning to gain importance as they become a public health issue. Research has shown that the wellbeing of vulnerable groups such as particularly children and young people is particularly affected. 

Implementation Method and Timeline

The project will involve the following steps: 

  1. Exploring the (emotional) relations of young people in local communities to their natural environment, and in particularly local environments ‘in crisis’.
  2. Analysing the extent to which a direct or distant everyday 'connection' with the natural environment influences emotional wellbeing.
  3. Exploring how emotional responses to the climate crisis are impacted by direct engagement with the natural environment.

Expected Outcomes

It is anticipated that the project will lead to two co-authored scientific journal articles, a short documentary for dissemination, which can also be used for research-intensive teaching, and, in the long-term, the creation of a transnational research and innovation network connecting academics and postgraduate students working on mental health and climate change.