The eco-crisis and CAMHS
Our children and young people are going to be most affected by the eco-crisis. They need us all to do what we can. As trusted medical professionals our voice is hugely influential.
This crisis brings with it threat, but also opportunity, and the chance to re-imagine what we do to tackle existing inequalities and inefficiencies.
There are many ways to get involved, whether you have a few minutes to spare, or want to commit more time and energy. This resource page has been collated to provide you with more information and offers links to find out more about various aspects of this work.
Video: Climate, nature and wellbeing – what can we do?
Watch our video to hear from our members ways to integrate sustainability into your professional practice. See our top tips for climate nature and wellbeing for more information.
EcoCAMHS workstream: exploring how we deliver excellent practice in mental health care for children and young people whilst keeping nature and climate in mind
We are members of the CAP Faculty who are concerned about the degradation of the natural world and the impact on children and young people. Sharing values of social justice, participation and holistic care, we want to change our practice to benefit people and planet.
Please email Dr Catriona Mellor or Dr Nick Barnes if you are interested in joining us, to simply keep up with events, or to get more actively involved. We will use your email address to invite you to meetings and for updates of the work we are doing. Let us know if you’d like to be part of a Signal group for sharing of resources and practices and if so, please also email your telephone number
Our current priority areas of action are:
- promoting our EcoCAMHS top tips for nature, climate and wellbeing
- developing eLearning modules on the relevance of nature and the climate crisis for child and adolescent psychiatry
- establishing nature-based training opportunities for psychiatrists
- encouraging nature-based practice: pilots, evaluations, networks and resources
- supporting sustainable CAMHS services.
- Take a breath and write down a commitment to yourself: Whatever you care most deeply about, will be affected by this crisis. Commit to finding out how.
- Decide to get more engaged. Decide to start noticing how you ‘turn away’ from news of the crisis and turn away from opportunities to get engaged. Decide to be curious. When someone raises the issues be a supportive voice and ask questions to learn more.
- Commit to taking one action at work this month.
- Email us your details so we can keep you informed of our work.
Learn more about the actions you can take as a psychiatrist from the RCPsych Sustainability Committee webpage, at the level of your own practice, in communication with your Trust, in your community
For example, you could use the sample text below to contact your Trust Board:
You will be aware that the NHS Net Zero report was published in 2020. In it the NHS has promised to become carbon neutral by 2045 and is the first health service in the world to make such a commitment. Although this may seem a long way away, the first interim target is an 80% reduction in the carbon we produce directly, by the end of this decade.
I am sure that much has been done already in line with the 2009 NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy but I would be interested to know more about how our Trust/Health Board plan to make these further reductions and what individual staff can do to help.
- Eco crisis and (mental) health – what are the links?
A short animation on the links between the eco-crisis and mental health including eco-anxiety.
- International Review of Psychiatry special issue: the climate crisis and mental health
- Lancet Countdown
- The journal of climate change and health
- Lawrance et al (2022) The impact of climate change on mental health and emotional wellbeing: a narrative review of current evidence, and its implications
- Lawrance et al (2021) Grantham Institute Briefing paper No 36: The impact of climate change on mental health and emotional wellbeing: current evidence and implications for policy and practice
- Burke et al (2018) The Psychological Effects of Climate Change on Children
This paper reviews recent evidence on the psychological effects of climate change on children, covering both direct and indirect impacts, and discusses children's psychological adaptation to climate change.
- Wabnitz et al (2020) A pledge for planetary health to unite health professionals in the Anthropocene
Further reading suggestions:
- Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone: Active Hope - the classic book for climate distress which inspires and regenerates
- Margaret Klein Salamon: Facing the Climate Emergency - draws the important distinction between climate activism and climate emergency activism and why the time to act is now
- Four principles of sustainable health care explained
- Expert report by Dr Lise van Susteren
Join Psych Declares, affiliated to Health Declares. Psych Declares is a group of UK activist psychiatrists who are trying to reach out internationally and coordinate collective action. To get involved, email Dr Kirsten Shukla.
Other health organisations supporting climate justice and nature regeneration:
Integrating nature into your practice
Clinical skills for nature-based providers
Dr Alan Kellas has collated his years of experience as a LD psychiatrist, as well as working in the outdoors to provide this rich, useful summary. Includes his three favourite questions to ask.
How to find local nature-based providers
Dr Alan Kellas has pulled together a comprehensive list of the types of nature based provider that you may want to contact – whether for your patient’s care or for your own training.
The main training available in nature based approaches in working with children and young people have been for educators/teachers, rather than therapists. But this is changing and the following represent quite experienced trainers with well established training records:
- Forest school association: the most widely recognised training
- Circle of Life Rediscovery (Marina Robb): 'Certificate in Nature-based Practice'
- Roger Duncan: Confer training
- Natural Academy
- David Key
- Alan Kellas offers mentoring and small group facilitation for psychiatrists and mental health practitioners wanting to bring nature into their practice
You can follow us on Twitter at @RCPsychCAP and via the hashtag #ecocamhs.