If you’re involved in, or interested in, health and wellbeing, how do you think about the environment?
This is an attempt to map the four different ways that I think the environment is framed in any work to do with health and wellbeing. There’s an enormous amount of work to be done at every level, but my proposition is that we need to be acknowledging the unfolding realities of dimension 3, and starting to work much harder at dimension 4. I also contend that the Cultural sector has a big role to play in these new ways of thinking and working.
|Dimension||Quartile||Causes & implications||Health & wellbeing impacts|
|1. Personal resilience & mental wellbeing||Socio-political + Individual||Stressors (e.g. nature disconnection & competitive overwork, threat of resource insecurity, social division, loneliness & homelessness) mean that many individuals need help to maintain mental & physical health.||Depression, social anxiety, anhedonia, apathy.
Sleep deprivation. Addiction – leading to ill health.
Domestic violence. PTSD. Childhood trauma. Etc.
|2. Population-level complex health risks||Geophysical + individual||The interaction of damaging environmental factors (e.g. air pollution, warming temperatures, agri-industrial chemicals, processed food etc.) means health stakeholders need to apply more systemic thinking to physical and mental wellbeing across populations.||All the above, plus: Cancers. Respiratory disorders. Neurological/developmental disorders and dementias. Antibiotic resistance & immunity disorders. Obesity. Deaths of vulnerable people in heatwaves.|
|3. Safe planet for future generations||Geophysical + communal||An unfolding ecological catastrophe of breached planetary boundaries, including rapidly worsening climate change, means that universally, everyone needs to wake up to the fact that without a planetary system sustaining biodiverse life, or stable human civilisation, there will be no wellbeing for humans into the future.||All the above, but, also:
Mass starvation & dehydration. Mass deaths by drowning, fire & heat, Increase in fatal viral diseases such as ebola, increases in malaria, dengue fever & diarrhoea. Increases in injury, PTSD & disease from mass migration & homelessness.
|4. Regenerative alternatives to growth-based system||Socio-political + communal||The outcomes of neoliberal politics and a consumerist system mean that businesses, institutions and governments need to explore and test alternative ways of managing trade and currency, valuing geophysical & social capacities over economic growth, so that there is wellbeing for cities, regions and nations.||All the above can be mitigated through systemic changes towards degrowth & regeneration.|
I’d be grateful for comments. Is there a dimension, or stressor, or impact, that I’ve missed?