Climate & Mental Health Professions


Here, we summarize how climate mental health has been addressed by the various mental health professions, including Social Work; Psychology; Psychiatry; and Marriage & Family Therapy.

  • Climate & Social Work

    Because of its bio-psycho-social approach, and its roots in social justice, Social Work is uniquely positioned, among the mental health professions, to address the climate-mind nexus from a holistic perspective. Surprisingly, then, no over-arching groups exist specifically to promote “Climate Social Work.”

    However, a number of social work scholars, writers, and practitioners have written on the topic, and a sampling of these sources is listed below. Much discussion of climate and social work falls within the broader domain of Green Social Work, Eco-Social Work, and Environmental Social Work.

    Given the likelihood that climate breakdown will have an increasing impact on mental and social well-being across the globe, and will disproportionately impact marginalized groups, we would like to see a greater focus on environmental social work in undergraduate and graduate social work programs. For a sample Social Work course curriculum, focused on climate, social work, and social justice, click here.

    • Alston, M. (2015). Social work, climate change and global cooperation. International Social Work, 58, 355-363.

    • Boetto, H., & BA, B. (2017). An ecologically centred approach in social work: Towards transformative change.

    • Boddy, J. (2014). Climate change and vulnerable people: Time for eco-social work practice. [Prezi slides].

    • Coyle, S. (2019). “Climate Change Reverberations: Public Health Fallout.” Social Work Today. July/August, 2019, pgs. 22-25.

    • Cumby, T. (2016). Climate change and social work: Our roles and barriers to action. Master of Social Work Thesis, Wilfrid Laurier University. (PDF link)

    • Dominelli, L. (2011). Climate change: social workers' roles and contributions to policy debates and interventions. International Journal of Social Welfare20(4), 430-438.

    • Carrie Dorn (2019). Climate Change and Health: A Call to Social Workers. NASW Practice Perspectives. Summer, 2019.

    • Gray, M., Coates, J., & Hetherington, T. (Eds.). (2012). Environmental social work. Routledge.

    • Jackson, K. (2017). Climate Change and Public Health: How Social Workers Can Advocate for Environmental Justice. Social Work Today. Vol. 17 No. 6 p. 10.

    • Joseph, D. D. (2017). Social work models for climate adaptation: the case of small islands in the Caribbean. Regional environmental change17(4), 1117-1126.

    • Lindberg, E. (2017). Understanding Climate Change as a Social Issue: How Research Can Help. USC School of Social Work News site, January 31, 2017.

    • Mallon, M. (2017). Editor's Note: Winds of Change. Social Work Today. Vol. 17 No. 6 p. 3.

    • Mason, L. R., Shires, M. K., Arwood, C., & Borst, A. (2017). Social Work Research and Global Environmental Change. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 8(4), 645-672.

    • Mpambela, M., & Mabvurira, V. (2017). Effects of climate change and their indelible impact on social work profession in Zimbabwe. African Journal of Social Work, 7(2), 30-35.

    • Peeters, J. (2012). A comment on ‘Climate change: Social workers’ roles and contributions to policy debates and interventions'. International Journal of Social Welfare, 21(1), 105-107. [Response to Dominelli (2011); PDF link]

    • Powers, M. C., Schmitz, C. A., Nsonwu, C. Z., & Mathew, M. T. (2018). Environmental Migration: Social Work at the Nexus of Climate Change and Global Migration. Advances in Social Work, 18(3), 1023-1040.

    • Sugirtha, J. T. & Little Flower, F. X. L. (2015). Global warming, climate change and the need for green social work. Indian Journal of Applied Research, 5(12), 102-104.

    • Tischler, A. E. (2011). Climate change and social work: steps to an eco-social work practice. Master of Social Work Thesis, Smith College School for Social Work. [PDF link]

    • Whitaker, B. (2007) A Social Worker Grandfather Thinks About Global Warming. The New Social Worker. Mar 30, 2007.

  • Climate & Psychology

    First, check out the resources at Climate Psychology Alliance, including:

    Below here are a few selected climate psychology resources:

    • Whitmore-Williams, S, Manning, C, Krygsman, K and Speiser, M. (2017). Mental Health and our Changing Climate. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

    • Doherty, T. J., & Clayton, S. (2011). The psychological impacts of global climate change. American Psychologist66(4), 265.

  • Climate & Psychiatry

    First of all, visit Climate Psychiatry Alliance, made up of “psychiatrists…united by the mission of assuring optimal mental health by preventing and mitigating climate change's impact on mental health and maximizing the mental and physical health co-benefits of a sustainable, regenerative, global response.”

    They have a range of Climate and psychiatry-related resources on their website, including:

    Meanwhile, here are some select articles and resources related to climate and the field of psychiatry:

  • Climate & Marriage & Family Therapy

    • Davenport, Leslie (2019). “A New Path: The Role of Systemic Therapists in an Era of Environmental Crisis.” Marriage and Family Magazine, July/August, 2019.

  • Climate & Narrative Therapy

  • Climate & School Psychology

    • Coming soon!

  • Climate & Nursing

    • Coming soon!

  • Climate & Disaster Mental Health

    • Coming soon!