Psychiatrists call for action on climate change to protect youth mental health

12 August 2021

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has expressed concern at the alarming impacts of climate change found in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis report.

RANZCP President, Associate Professor Vinay Lakra, welcomed the report’s warnings, explaining that climate change has considerable impacts on the mental health of our communities and individuals.

‘Changes in our climate have increased the likelihood and severity of natural disasters, directly impacting the mental and physical health of individuals and communities’, added Associate Professor Lakra.

‘Young people are increasingly vulnerable to experiencing indirect impacts on mental health and distress about climate change.

Chair of the RANZCP Section of Youth Mental Health, Dr Daniel Pellen, reiterated the RANZCP’s advocacy for people vulnerable to mental distress about climate change, more commonly known as “climate anxiety” or “eco-distress”.

‘This report outlines a number of potential tipping points in the Earth’s natural systems, which will lead to widespread and irrevocable disaster.

‘This can lead to a wide range of direct and indirect negative health effects including mental health problems and mental disorders, health risk behaviours and effects on other social and lifestyle opportunities, health perceptions and physical health.

‘The IPCC’s report shows damning evidence that our planet’s health is going to continue to decline rapidly if we don’t do something drastic.

‘A prediction like this is contributing to the mental distress of our younger generations, leaving them feeling anxious and frustrated.

‘This report shows us that we need to be doing more, not just for the health of our planet, but for the mental health and wellbeing of our children and vulnerable populations.

‘Our health and well-being is directly related to our planet’s health.’

For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 (0)3 9640 0646 or +61 437 315 911, or email

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments and other groups on mental health care. 

In Australia: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or or the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467 or

In New Zealand: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline NZ on 0800 543 354 or or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 or