Planetary health is a broad multidisciplinary effort that attempts to address what has been described as “Anthropocene Syndrome”—the wicked, interrelated challenges of our time. These include, but are not limited to, grotesque biodiversity losses, climate change, environmental degradation, resource depletion, the global burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), health inequalities, social injustices, erosion of wisdom and civility, together with the many structural underpinnings of these grand challenges. The ultimate aim of planetary health is flourishing along every link in the person, place and planet continuum. The events of “2020” have illuminated the consequences of “mass trauma” and how sub-threshold anxiety and/or depressive symptoms erase the rigid lines between mental “health” and mental “disorders”, and unmasked the systemic forms of injustice, discrimination, and oppression that have too often escaped discourse. Here, we query the ways in which post-traumatic growth research might inform the larger planetary health community, especially in the context of a global pandemic, broadening socioeconomic inequalities, a worsening climate crisis, and the rise of political authoritarianism. The available research would suggest that “2020” fulfills the trauma criteria of having a “seismic impact on the assumptive world”, and as such, provides fertile ground for post-traumatic growth. Among the many potential positive changes that might occur in response to trauma, we focus on the value of new awareness, perspective and greater wisdom.
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