Mental health issues related to climate change in Poland - Polish psychologists’ and psychotherapists’ perspective.
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Institute of Psychology, The Maria Grzegorzewska University, Warsaw, Poland
Third Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Warsaw, Poland
Submission date: 2021-07-21
Acceptance date: 2021-10-03
Online publication date: 2021-11-13
Publication date: 2021-11-13
Corresponding author
Magdalena Gawrych   

Institute of Psychology, The Maria Grzegorzewska University, Warsaw, Poland
Arch Psych Psych 2022;24(2):47-53
Aim of the study:
The aim of the first Polish pilot study was to conduct an initial analysis of the occurrence of mental issues related to such experiences as: fear, worry, sense of loss and grief in connection with climate change and ecology. The consequences of climate and environmental changes for physical health are increasingly well-documented. In contrast, psychosocial changes due to climate change and, in particular, the impact on mental health, remain unrecognized.

Subject or material and methods:
Psychologists and psychotherapists were asked to share their clinical experience in diagnosing and treatment of patients reporting climate change-related mental symptoms. Climate change-related mental issues were operationalized as clinically significant symptoms meeting the criteria for anxiety and depressive disorders or adjustment disorders, and are known in literature as a solastalgia and ecological anxiety. The collection of data with the use of an on-line survey started lasted 4 months.

Issues relating to ecology and climate change were present both in the contents of patient concerns (48.6% of respondents) and in patients’ hypotheses regarding their symptoms (16.7% of respondents, p <.001) in the past 6 months of the respondents’ clinical work. Mental health professionals considered psychoeducation (62.5%), psychological support (73.6%), short-term psychotherapy (45.8%) and self-help groups (40.3%) to be appropriate mental health support interventions.

The presented study provides evidence that mental health issues related to climate change are recognized by Polish psychologists and psychotherapists. The professionals can need comprehensive knowledge of climate-related mental health, including appropriate interventions.

These findings may be a ground for designing further research on this topic.

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