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News: SLMCCM-WHQM becomes Asia partner in a new global research initiative on climate and mental health

| May 25, 2023

The Planetary and Global Health Program (PGHP) of the St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine-William H. Quasha Memorial joins an ambitious year-long project entitled “Connecting Climate Minds” – a global initiative that aims to develop a global and regional research and action agenda and a global and regional community of practice dedicated to the emerging nexus of climate change and mental health. 

This initiative aims to better understand the mental health needs of communities around the world affected by climate change, and how aligned research and action on the mental health challenges emerging from climate threats can support a safer climate future where no-one is further held back by mental health challenges. This ground-breaking year-long process will bring together diverse disciplines, sectors and communities to connect and align on an actionable research agenda, embedded in lived experience and with direct links to policy and practice.

Funded by Wellcome, this project will be implemented by an international consortium led by teams based at Imperial College London – Climate Cares at the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, and delivered through Imperial Projects. Other partners include the International Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, Sustyvibes, Force of Nature, the Climate Mental Health Network, The University of the West Indies, Imo University, and Claretian University.

The St. Luke’s team is led by climate and health expert Dr. Renzo Guinto, Director of the PGHP, and environmental psychologist Dr. John Jamir Benzon Aruta, PGHP’s visiting fellow and Associate Professor at the De La Salle University. Apart from being part of the core project team, the St. Luke’s PGHP team is also serving as the convener for the Eastern and Southeastern Asia region. 

As regional community convener, St. Luke’s PGHP is responsible for organizing the regional dialogue and training activities in the Eastern and Southeastern Asia region, developing case studies and other knowledge products, and establishing the regional community of practice that brings together stakeholders from different disciplines and sectors, including people with lived experience of climate change and mental health including young people. The project will culminate with a hybrid global dialogue event in 2024 in Jamaica and the launch of the Global Online Hub, showcasing the wealth of knowledge and lessons gathered from the project.

“Living in one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries, we Filipinos are already beginning to experience the mental health impacts of climate change –  from post-traumatic stress affecting typhoon victims to the growing ‘climate anxiety’ of young people,” said Dr. Guinto. “Therefore, the Philippines and St. Luke’s are best positioned to lead the discourse around climate change and mental health in the Eastern and Southeastern Asia region.”

“The climate and mental health nexus requires a truly transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach,” remarked Dr. Aruta. “As an environmental psychologist, I feel very excited to meaningfully engage with public health experts, psychiatrists, environmentalists, climate activists, social scientists, civil society representatives, and most especially young people in deepening our understanding of this emerging planetary health issue.”

For more information, visit the website of Connecting Climate Minds and read this article published in the website of Imperial College London: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/244353/new-global-research-project-intersection-climate/

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