Original Articles

Perception of climate change, loss of social capital and mental health in two groups of migrants from African countries


Introduction. The negative effects of climate change affect community subsistence
models, thus determining an increase in social conflicts, a loosening of social capital, an
increase in the incidence of traumas and diseases, and a push for migration.
Aim. This exploratory research compares the perception of climate change, as well as the
reduction of social capital and mental health, in two groups of migrants arriving in Italy
from African countries with high or extreme vulnerability to climate change.
Methods. The perception of climate change and the degree of social capital were assessed
with a semi-structured interview. The psychological condition was investigated
through a clinical psychological interview and tests.
Results. The group of migrants coming from countries with extreme exposure to climate
change perceive greater vulnerability of their country and reports a greater loss of social
capital. The level of education does not seem to affect the ability to perceive climate
change. In the entire sample, there is a strong correlation between the perception of
change and the loss of social capital, and between the loss of social capital and emotional
Conclusions. The study suggests that actions to preserve the social capital of a community
strongly exposed to climate change can mitigate the impact of change on mental


Climate change; social capital; mental health; migration

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