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The Psychological and Mental Health Consequences of Climate Change in South Africa

September 2021

A new report by community psychology expert, Dr Garret Barnwell, shows that climate change harms are already negatively impacting our mental well-being and these effects will only accelerate in the future, placing today’s youth and future generations in harm’s way.

The findings of the report, commissioned by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) for the African Climate AlliancegroundWork, the Vukani Environmental Movement in Action, are clear: climate change poses a severe threat to the mental health and well-being of present and future generations – and people living in South Africa are particularly vulnerable to these effects.

It is extraordinarily difficult for the majority of South Africans to adapt to the advancing climate shocks, such as climate change-exacerbated disasters, water insecurity, and economic losses. The same social conditions that make individuals and communities more vulnerable to climate change, are the same that put people at higher risk of mental illness and psychological adversities,” Barnwell explains.

Garret Barnwell is an independent practice clinical psychologist registered with the HPCSA with over 5-years of clinical practice and more than 10-years of experience with the international medical humanitarian sector and community psychology. He currently works asa clinical psychologist in private practice in Johannesburg and as a researcher with expertise in community assessments and interventions and the psychology of climate change.

View Report