Objective: Our world faces potentially catastrophic climate change and we have limited capacity to adapt to rapid or extreme climatic changes. As a result, we can expect signifi cant adverse impacts on health. This includes mental health, a major and growing global concern. It is essential to understand how to respond quickly, effectively and within a manageable budget. The aim of this paper is to propose that the adverse consequences of climate change might offer a subtle but important mental health promotion opportunity which meets these criteria. Conclusions: Climate change will affect mental health directly through increasing exposure to trauma, and indirectly through harming physical health and damaging the physical environment on which economic opportunity depends. Disadvantaged people and communities, especially in rural and remote Australia, will be hardest hit. Seminal work by Alexander Leighton demonstrated how profound disadvantage and associated elevated psychiatric morbidity could be addressed by building community capacity. His methods might be adapted, using the need to address adverse climate change as an opportunity to build social capital. Social capital is associated with a wide range of socioeconomic and health advantages, particularly decreased psychiatric morbidity.
Australasian Psychiatry Vol. 17, Issue 6, p. 453-456