The climate and ecological crises: what can psychiatrists do?

Dr Lisa Page, Rosa Roberts, Katie Hall, Peter Knapp, Marion Neffgen, Dasal Abayaratne, Amelia Cussans, Pip Clery, Francis Bennett, Stuart d'arch Smith, Jessica Ball, El Cook

75 minutes


July 2023

Congress webinar 2023


In the first talk of this session Dr Rosa Roberts and Dr Katie Hall will outline the evidence base for nature-based mental healthcare, and discuss how research initiatives can be used in this field. Two specific examples will be reviewed - one set within Bristol-based perinatal mental health services and another from Sri-Lanka. Peter Knapp, Marion Neffgen and Dasal Abayaratne will present a case-example of climate distress, explore psychological, social and cultural factors relevant to climate distress, and make the case for collective action that benefits our mental health and resilience.

Scientist Pete Knapp will be interviewed by Medical Psychotherapists about his waking up to the reality of the climate emergency, his experience of climate distress and how his engagement with environmental activism became a therapeutic journey. We will explore his experiences from a psychotherapeutic perspective and consider the importance of professionals really listening to those experiencing climate distress (and perhaps asking ourselves why we are not alarmed?).

The final talk will be an interactive session whereby trainees and new consultants, who are members of the College's Planetary Health and Sustainability Committee and /or PsychDeclares will run a speed workshop highlighting ways that any psychiatrist can get involved with clinically relevant and sustainable QI.

Learning objectives

- Understand current theory and evidence underpinning nature-based interventions in psychiatry

- Understand how research can support the design and evaluation of these interventions, through an example nature-based programme for mothers experiencing postnatal mental health difficulties.

- Differentiate climate distress from mental health disorders.

- Recognise psychological defences that operate in relation to climate distress.

- Give examples of adaptive ways of working with climate distress, including the role of activism

- Explore your own internal experience in relation to the climate crisis

- Identify your spheres of influence as a psychiatrist and the levels at which an individual can act locally in the workplace, in organisations and in large collective groups.

- Have agency to act on the climate and ecological emergency, whether this be at an individual level, in your workplace, at an organisation or governmental level.


Chair: Dr Lisa Page, King's College London

Rosa Roberts, Sustainability Champion, Southwest Division

Katie Hall, University of Bristol

Peter Knapp, Imperial College London

Marion Neffgen, Consultant Medical Psychotherapist

Dasal Abayaratne, Higher Specialist Trainee in Medical Psychotherapy

Amelia Cussans

Pip Clery

Francis Bennett

Stuart d'arch Smith

Jessica Ball

El Cooke



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