Built environment, climate and mental health

A young woman and man are walking their dog in an urban park. Built environment and mental health.The Matilda Centre based at the University of Sydney is a collaboration of academics, practitioners and policy makers. The Centre recently ran a webinar on the built environment, climate and mental health. The speakers were Dr Susie Burke, Professor Susan Thompson and Dr Lyrian Daniel.

The YouTube video below runs for an hour. The three speakers give their perspectives on climate change and mental health and the role of planners.  

Susie Burke talks about the way in which climate change impacts mental health. There are direct impacts, such as the time of a flood or fire, and indirect causes – the flow-on effects. Also, there are vicarious effects – individuals not directly affected but concerned for the effects on others. 

Susan Thompson says planners appreciate the importance of the built environment in increasing health and wellbeing. Our health and wellbeing is dependent on how and where we live. And the health of our planet also ultimately underpins our health. 

Places that support physical activity are good for mental health across all ages. Getting active for getting from place to place in daily life also supports mental wellbeing. But physical activity and transport needs to be fun and easy to do. And of course, green open space is important for both humans and the planet. 

Lyrian Daniel talks about climate change, housing and mental health outcomes and patterns of disadvantage. Poor housing conditions, climate risk and mental health are closely linked. Affordability, especially for rental housing, adds to the mental health burden. Her key point is that housing has a clear role in mental health and wellbeing. 

Logo of the University of Sydney Matilda Centre. In the short question session at the end, Susan Thompson says we have all the tools and guidelines but no political leadership. So we all need to be advocating. 


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