Is the Concept of Solastalgia Meaningful to Pacific Communities Experiencing Mental Health Distress Due to Climate Change? An Initial Exploration

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Nov 9;20(22):7041. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20227041.


The critical inquiry is how Pacific communities themselves characterize mental distress as a result of climate change. If not solastalgia, what more suitable terms might they use? This viewpoint article aims to initiate a discourse using solastalgia as the focus for the Pacific by 1. providing a definition of solastalgia; 2. examining its application in Pacific research; 3. presenting limitations of solastalgia; and 4. assessing its appropriateness for Pacific communities. There is a dearth of research using solastalgia, particularly within Pacific communities. The Pacific region's diverse contexts may already possess terms that effectively convey place-based distress that solastalgia attempts to describe. However, the authors found that solastalgia holds limited utility in the Pacific region, primarily based on a review of the literature, which involved keyword searches in Google Scholar such as solastalgia, mental health, mental distress, wellbeing, climate change, environmental distress, displacement, and Indigenous and Pacific peoples. More importantly, the concept is limited in capturing Pacific experiences of land loss due to climate change events, particularly, as the Pacific imbues land with profound significance, intertwined with culture, identity, and wellbeing. Land loss equates to a loss of culture, identity, wellbeing, and kinship in most Pacific contexts. It is apparent that broader and more holistic approaches are required.

Keywords: Pacific peoples; climate change; indigenous; mental health distress; solastalgia; wellbeing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Mental Health*