Investigating the Health Impacts of Climate Change among People with Pre-Existing Mental Health Problems: A Scoping Review

Lisa Woodland*, Priyanjali Ratwatte, Revati Phalkey, Emma L. Gillingham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change is the greatest threat to global public health, although the impacts on mental health are relatively understudied. Furthermore, there is a lack of consensus about the effects of climate change on individuals with pre-existing mental health problems. This review aimed to identify the health impacts of climate change on people with pre-existing mental health problems. The search was conducted across three databases; studies were included if they involved participants who had mental health problem(s) before a climate-driven event and reported on health outcomes post-event. A total of thirty-one studies met the full inclusion criteria. The study characteristics included 6 climate-driven events: heat events, floods, wildfires, wildfire and flood, hurricanes, and droughts, and 16 categories of pre-existing mental health problems, with depression, and non-specified mental health problems being the most common. The majority of the studies (90%, n = 28) suggest an association between the presence of pre-existing mental health problems and the likelihood of adverse health impacts (e.g., increased mortality risk, new symptom presentation, and an exacerbation of symptoms). To mitigate the exacerbation of health inequalities, people with pre-existing mental health problems should be included in adaption guidance and/or plans that mitigate the health impacts of climate change, future policy, reports, and frameworks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5563
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was part funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant number ES/P000703/1). It was also part funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response, a partnership between the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), King’s College London, and the University of East Anglia (grant number NIHR200890); the NIHR HPRU in Environmental Change and Health (a partnership between the UKHSA, London School of Health and Tropical Medicine and University College London, and the Met Office) (grant number NIHR200909); and the NIHR HPRU in Behavioural Science and Evaluation (a partnership between the UKHSA and University of Bristol) (grant number NIHR200877). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR, UKHSA, or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • anxiety
  • dementia
  • depression
  • drought
  • extreme heat
  • flood
  • hurricane
  • post-traumatic stress
  • schizophrenia
  • wildfire


Dive into the research topics of 'Investigating the Health Impacts of Climate Change among People with Pre-Existing Mental Health Problems: A Scoping Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this