HDR Scholarship - Mental Health and Climate Change

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Mental Health and Climate Change.

Project Supervisor

Additional Supervision

Dr Jaithri Ananthapavan (Deakin)

Dr Fiona Charlson (The University of Queensland)


Melbourne Burwood Campus

Research topic

The mental health impacts of climate change are well-established. However, an economic assessment of the associated direct and indirect costs has not been conducted. These financial impacts are likely to be substantial and more information is needed to inform climate mitigation and adaptation strategies as extreme weather events increase in frequency and severity. Research into the economics of climate change-induced mental health outcomes can consider the magnitude and distribution of economic impacts on individuals and families (health, productivity, workforce participation, school attendance), communities (anti-social behaviour, employment, investment) and health care systems across the short- and long-term.

The Productivity Commission Report on Mental Health estimated the cost to the Australian economy of mental illness and suicide is up to $70 billion per year, with an additional (largely avoidable) $150 billion per year (approx.) associated with diminished health and reduced life expectancy for people living with mental illness (Australian Government Productivity Commission, 2020). Unfortunately, the additional impacts of climate risks were outside the report's scope, but they are likely to be significant (Volume 2, p.100).

The report states, "While our recommendations would deliver a mental health system that is ready for the next major recession, pandemic, climate-change crisis or other shock to our community, we do not purport in this Inquiry to eliminate the risk of these and other social and environmental challenges" (Productivity Commission, p.8).

The Healthy Environment and Lives (HEAL) Network has prioritised the need to understand and quantify the economic costs of the mental health impacts of climate change in Australia. It is likely this project will involve longitudinal data analyses and, depending on the student’s interests, economic modelling could be used to estimate long-term health and cost impacts of extreme weather events (e.g. flood, fire, heat).

This PhD research is a HEAL Network project funded by a national NHMRC Special Initiative Human Health and Environmental Change grant and led by Australian National University. This unique research network comprises 100 researchers from each state and territory in Australia, and its vision is to catalyse research, knowledge exchange and translation into policy and practice that will bring measurable improvements to our health, the Australian health system and the environment.

Project aim

The aim of this PhD research project is to explore the mental health burden of climate change in the Australian community. The student will conduct secondary data analyses to estimate the economic impact of mental ill-health attributable to extreme weather events in Australia.

Proposed research questions:


  • What is the association between extreme weather events and mental health outcomes?
  • What are the past and current economic costs of mental ill-health that can be attributed to climate change in Australia?
  • What are the projected costs of mental ill-health due to climate change?


  • Which quantifiable factors are contributing to these costs?

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Tuesday 31 October 2023


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $33,500 per annum tax exempt (2023 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only:  Tuition fees offset for the duration of 4 years. Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be a domestic or international candidate. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

Additional desirable criteria include:

  • Experience in quantiative data analyis and health economics is desirable.

How to apply

Please apply using the Find a Research Supervisor tool


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact A/Prof Claire Henderson-Wilson

A/Prof Claire Henderson-Wilson
Email A/Prof Claire Henderson-Wilson
+61 3 925 17268