Climate change and mental health and wellbeing and the relevance of the concept of Solastalgia for Pacific communities

In these two recently published articles, CHA members Tina NewportJemaima Tiatia-SiauAlistair Woodward and their colleagues delve into the profound impact of climate change on the mental health and wellbeing of Pacific communities. 

Anchored in pacific protocols – climate change, mental health and wellbeing

This study, spanning Aotearoa New Zealand, the Cook Islands, and Niuē, places Pacific voices at the forefront of analysis. It challenges the application of Western concepts like eco- and climate anxiety, emphasizing the need to understand the cultural nuances of mental distress in the Pacific context. The critical inquiry is how Pacific communities themselves characterize mental distress in the face of climate change.

Is the Concept of Solastalgia Meaningful to Pacific Communities Experiencing Mental Health Distress Due to Climate Change? An Initial Exploration

This second article focuses on the term “solastalgia” in the Pacific, aiming to initiate a discourse by defining the term, exploring its application in Pacific research, acknowledging its limitations, and assessing its appropriateness. The study argues that solastalgia has limited utility in the Pacific, particularly in capturing the experiences of land loss, which holds profound significance for Pacific cultures. The authors stress the dearth of research using solastalgia within Pacific communities and advocate for broader, more holistic approaches to comprehend the intricate relationship between climate change and mental health in the Pacific context. 

Both articles underscore the importance of prioritizing Pacific perspectives and identifying suitable ways to convey the nuanced mental distress experienced by Pacific peoples. They are available as open access articles which can be downloaded at the links above. Support for these articles came from the New Zealand Health Research Council.