UC Climate Change and Mental Health Council

The Council is a pioneering initiative in the UC CCHE that fosters interdisciplinary collaboration across the UC campuses and healthcare systems, promoting research, and implementing educational initiatives that address the urgent issue of climate change and its profound impact on mental health and wellbeing. The Council orchestrates and oversees activities and programs focused on integrating climate resilience and mental health into the research, education, and clinical care missions of the University of California.

UC Climate Resilience Course -- For the first time, professors across the UCs have formed a collaborative group to teach students about climate resilience strategies and promote engagement in climate action. The class was led by Drs. Elissa Epel, Jyoti Mishra, and Philippe Goldin, and included faculty from 8 campuses. In 2025, the course will launch at 10 UC campuses. If you are interested in being part of this and are UC faculty or a certified mindfulness teacher, contact Course Director Elena Fromer, at [email protected].

Climate CAFES -- A climate café is a group for helping people who care about the climate have open discussion about climate emotions, as well as climate actions. Dr. Robin Cooper is leading a series of climate cafes at the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Drs. Cooper and Epel are planning an arc of didactic and clinical training for UC residents in climate mental health, including potential facilitation of climate cafes. More information will be shared here about future climate café schedules.

DPBS Climate Change and Mental Health Task Force -- The UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences was the first to organize climate mental health activities in education and clinical outreach. The group's work can be seen here, and they are now integrated into the UC Center for Climate, Health and Equity.

The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change - An international, multi-disciplinary research collaboration between academic institutions following on from the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, which emphasized that the response to climate change could be "the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century."

Nature Climate Change, Volume 8, Issue 4 - A collection of articles on climate change and mental health that highlight important directions for future research.

UCSF Synapse - A collection of articles on the connection between climate and mental health by resident physician Alex Trope

Climate Psychiatry Alliance - A 501(c)(3) advocacy group lead by concerned psychiatrists who are "united by the mission of assuring optimal mental health by preventing and mitigating climate change's impact on mental health and maximizing the mental and physical health co-benefits of a sustainable, regenerative, global response."

Human Health + Climate Change - An interdisciplinary student organization at UCSF made up of medical, pharmacy, nursing and dentistry students focused on creating awareness and enacting change around climate-health issues.

Talk Climate - Resources for talking with children about the climate crisis.

American Psychiatric Association - Climate Change and Mental Health Connections

American Psychological Association - Environment

American Public Health Association - Climate Changes Mental Health

UCSF Office of Sustainability - Climate Changes Health posters

Climate Health Now - California health community for equitable systems-level climate action

Elissa Epel, PhD is a Professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and the Director of the UC CCHE Climate Change and Mental Health Council. Epel and Mishra, with Philippe Goldin, of UCD, launched the UC Climate Resilience systemwide class in 2024. At UCSF Epel she is Vice Chair of Psychology and directs the Aging Metabolism Emotions Center. She studies the environmental, psychological, behavioral, and social factors that impact cellular aging (such as telomeres, inflammation, and mitochondria), and is also focusing on climate wellness and climate distress. Dr. Epel is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, past President of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, and past co-chair of the Mind & Life Institute Steering Council. 

Jyoti Mishra, PhD, MBA is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego. She is the Co-Director of the UC CCHE Climate Change and Mental Health Council. Trained in the computational, cognitive and translational neurosciences, she is the founder of the Neural Engineering & Translation Labs (NEATLabs) at UCSD. Her lab innovates digital technologies for scalable brain health mapping, monitoring and precision therapeutics. Dr. Mishra's interdisciplinary research interests are at the intersection of neuroscience and digital engineering, integrating machine learning methods to personalize and inform mental healthcare. She has also been at the forefront of community-based climate trauma research informing the cognitive and brain health impacts of climate extremes and developing pathways towards community resilience that integrate eco-mindfulness.

Robin Cooper, MD is a San Francisco psychiatrist who has had a private practice for over 40 years and is Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, UCSF, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She has served in many differing roles within the department initially on the paid faculty for the first 10 years of her career and then continuing as voluntary faculty as educator and supervisor with psychiatric residents and medical students. Over the past decade, she has focused most of her efforts on both education and advocacy about climate change and the impacts on mental health. Dr. Cooper is co-founder and President of Climate Psychiatry Alliance, a national non-profit group dedicated to understanding, education and advocacy about the specific impact of climate change on mental health. She is one of founding members of the initial UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Task Force on Climate Change and Mental Health and has contributed more broadly within UCSF endeavors to address climate change and health as content expert, consultant, collaborator to the UC CCHE.