Person/Planet: Towards a Planetary Mental Health

21 Aug 2023 02.30 PM - 04.00 PM Hybrid Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public
Organised by:
Jack Greatrex

This is a hybrid seminar.

  • For in-person attendance at SHHK Meeting Room 2 (03-93), please register here.
  • For virtual attendance on Zoom, please register here.
If planetary health is a new transdisciplinary agenda attending to the ‘health’ of the planet and its living systems in order to preserve human health and life – is planetary mental health a simple extension? This paper surveys the emerging programme (or programmes) of planetary mental health. What constitutes planetary mental health? How does the systems approach implicit in planetary health intersect with ecological theories in psychology and psychiatry? How might the psychological frames implicit in mental health fields complicate the assumptions bound up in planetary health? In particular, this paper will suggest that any planetary mental health programme demands a careful assessment of the shifting landscape of health, rather than illness only, in the Anthropocene. This includes emotional and social wellbeing approaches and the cluster of affective states known as eco-anxiety. Planetary mental health demands a more thorough attention to the personal in the imaginary of planetary health, bringing the history of deep ecology and ecopsychology to bear on planetary health literature dominated by public health and epidemiology, and to look to theories of ecological subjectivity advanced in the social sciences and environmental humanities.

Dr James Dunk is a historian and interdisciplinary researcher exploring how psychology and mental health are changing in the face of planetary crisis. Currently a Research Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney, he leads the planetary mental health theme on the ARC Discovery Project Planetary Health Histories: Developing Concepts, co-directs the Ecological Emotion Research Lab and convenes the Climate Distress, Art and Open Dialogue Community of Practice. His first book, Bedlam at Botany Bay, won the Australian History Prize at the 2020 NSW Premier's History Awards, and his research on planetary health, mental health and ecological distress has been published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Sustainability, History of Psychology, Australian Psychologist and Rethinking History, with literary reviews and essays appear in Griffith Review, Australian Book Review, and elsewhere.