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Climate change threats to family farmers' sense of place and mental wellbeing: A case study from the Western Australian Wheatbelt

Ellis, N.R. and Albrecht, G.A. (2017) Climate change threats to family farmers' sense of place and mental wellbeing: A case study from the Western Australian Wheatbelt. Social Science & Medicine, 175 . pp. 161-168.

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‘Sense of place’ has become a central concept in the analysis of the cultural, personal and mental health risks posed by a changing climate. However, such place-related understandings of mental health and wellbeing remain largely limited to Indigenous health contexts. In this article we argue the relevance of sense of place in understanding the mental health impacts of climate change on family farmers who retain close living and working relationships to the land. We conducted a community-based qualitative case study located in the Western Australian Wheatbelt - a region that has experienced some of the most significant climate change in Australia. A three-part interview series was conducted with 22 family farmers between February 2013 and April 2014, and 15 interviews with various agricultural and mental health key informants. The research findings reveal that recently observed patterns of climate change have exacerbated farmers’ worries about the weather, undermined notions of self-identity, and contributed to cumulative and chronic forms of place-based distress, culminating in heightened perceived risk of depression and suicide. The research findings highlight the tightly coupled ecosystem health-human health relationships that exist for family farmers living in regions affected by climate change, as well as the significance of farmers’ place-based attachments and identities for their mental health and wellbeing.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School Of Business and Governance
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Copyright: © 2017 Elsevier Ltd
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Goal 13: Climate Action
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