Moving towards the right to ‘health for all’ by training the public health and wider health workforce on climate change and health
As part of the thematic network ‘Climate action through public health education and training’ under the EU Health Policy Platform, we urge climate change, education, and public health leaders from European institutions and Member States, public health and healthcare schools, education decision makers, public health and healthcare professional organisations, and civil societies to bring climate change and health concerns to the forefront of the debates.
Climate change continues to be the biggest challenge of the 21st century, with profound and growing negative consequences on public health. The cost of inaction to act in a timely and systemic manner will have catastrophic implications for the planet, the ecosystem, our livelihoods, notably the health and social systems of today and in the future. Responses to the climate emergency that do not prioritise public health, social rights and justice threaten to damage communities, reaffirm existing structural and geographical inequities.
Public health and healthcare professionals must take ownership of their role to increase their accountability regarding their contribution to the climate crisis and reflect the needs of the planet in the way that they serve the people going forward. To improve understanding of the linkages between climate and health and to make it a priority in their work, public health and healthcare professionals require core training and continuous professional development. There is a need for public health and healthcare professionals to be prepared to address the climate emergency. This statement aims to guide climate-health education and training of the public health and wider health workforce.
With regards to mental health, there is emerging evidence of the association between environmental degradation and pollution with experiences of mental ill health, including depression, anxiety and sadness. A growing body of evidence shows that nature is vital for good mental and physical health at all ages. Spending time in nature reduces experiences of anxiety, depression and loneliness. Climate change – acknowledged as a global environmental threat – can cause psychological distress and anxiety. Evidence also shows that effects of climate change such as economic uncertainty, job insecurity, volatile weather patterns and displacement, have a negative impact on mental health. Coordinated actions to address determinants of mental health are urgently needed. This is the reason why Mental Health Europe endorses this joint statement.
Read the full statement below.