The Psychological Effects of Climate Change on Children

  • Susie E. L. BurkeEmail author
  • Ann V. Sanson
  • Judith Van Hoorn
Child and Family Disaster Psychiatry (B Pfefferbaum, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Child and Family Disaster Psychiatry


Purpose of Review

We review recent evidence on the psychological effects of climate change on children, covering both direct and indirect impacts, and discuss children’s psychological adaptation to climate change.

Recent Findings

Both the direct and flow-on effects of climate change place children at risk of mental health consequences including PTSD, depression, anxiety, phobias, sleep disorders, attachment disorders, and substance abuse. These in turn can lead to problems with emotion regulation, cognition, learning, behavior, language development, and academic performance. Together, these create predispositions to adverse adult mental health outcomes. Children also exhibit high levels of concern over climate change. Meaning-focused coping promotes well-being and environmental engagement.


Both direct and indirect climate change impacts affect children’s psychological well-being. Children in the developing world will suffer the worst impacts. Mental health professionals have important roles in helping mitigate climate change, and researching and implementing approaches to helping children cope with its impacts.


Climate change Children Adolescents Psychological effects Coping Mental health Environmental engagement 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susie E. L. Burke
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ann V. Sanson
    • 2
  • Judith Van Hoorn
    • 3
  1. 1.Australian Psychological SocietyMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.University of the PacificStocktonUSA

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