On Christmas Day, 2015 a friend was witnessing one of the most traumatic events of their life unfold on television.
Their house in Wye River, on the Great Ocean Road was caught up in a devastating bushfire and completely destroyed, along with about 100 others. Fortunately, there was no loss of life.
It wasn't just the loss of the house that was so painful but also the natural environment.
One of the things they still miss acutely is a nature diary in which the family recorded sightings over the years. That went up in smoke along with all the memories.
Bushfire is an acute traumatic experience whereas the experience of drought is an ongoing, grinding trauma that seeps into your blood.
As climate change makes extreme weather events more frequent and more intense, so the consequent anxiety impacts our mental health, particularly in regional and rural communities.
Imagine the loss a farmer feels struggling to maintain a viable business and tend the crops and livestock that are his or her lifeblood? Feelings of failure, guilt and anger that you are not able to do what previous caretakers of the land have done can be overwhelming.
Climate change-related weather events often lead to psychiatric conditions particularly if feelings are concealed. Problems include depression, post traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and drug abuse, and the tragedy of suicide.
The Victorian Commission into Mental Health is happening now and is an opportunity to consult with communities with lessons potentially for the rest of the country.
It's clear that we need more mental health support in rural communities. There's a dearth of psychologists and psychiatrists and already overworked GPs need support and upskilling to deal with these issues as they relate to rural communities.
But it can't all be left to individuals. We are in a climate emergency that demands strong government leadership so that people feel supported in dealing with climate change impacts.
Action is needed immediately to reduce carbon emissions by breaking our dependence on fossil fuels and switching to renewable energy.
If we could start to see that action take effect, imagine the psychological boost that would ripple through the population.
Charles Le Feuvre, psychiatrist andmember of Psychology for a Safe Climate
For those seeking immediate help with mental health issues, contact Lifeline 13 11 14