Recognising that emotions are often what leads people to act, it is possible that feelings of ecological anxiety and grief, although uncomfortable, are in fact the crucible through which humanity must pass to harness the energy and conviction that are needed for the lifesaving changes now required.
Climate change has created a global mental health crisis. Due to both direct (e.g. extreme heat, hurricanes, desertification, displacement) and indirect (knowledge and awareness of the crisis) impacts of the climate crisis, people are experiencing climate mental health issues including climate trauma, solastalgia, climate anxiety, and climate grief.
But, the direct impacts of climate change are not equal. People living in the Global South and predominately communities of color in the United States, who also often face environmental racism, disproportionately are affected by climate change and have less access to resources to address the mental health consequences of systemic environmental racism and climate disasters.
For 75% of 10,000 university students in 32 countries, climate anxiety leads to positive environmental behaviors and actions.
80% of people in the United States experienced extreme heat in 2021. In the US, 12% of pediatric ER visits were due to hotter temperatures. Studies show a connection between extreme heat and aggressive behaviors.
"I DON'T KNOW WHAT I NEED. SINGING? TO BE HELD? THIS GRIEF IS BIGGER THAN ANYTHING I'VE EXPERIENCED."
"I DO FEEL ALONE WITH MY EMOTIONS ON CLIMATE CHANGE, BUT I KNOW I'M NOT... I STILL DON'T KNOW HOW TO MAKE IT A PRODUCTIVE SOCIAL CONVERSATION TOPIC."
"I'VE BEEN A SUSTAINABILITY PROFESSIONAL FOR OVER 25 YEARS, I'M BURNT OUT AND FAILING."
"SOLUTIONS NEED TO BE TAUGHT SO THAT WE AREN'T JUST BEING TAUGHT BY THERAPY OR MEDITATION TO 'JUST LIVE WITH IT' BUT ACTUALLY TO FEEL EMPOWERED THAT WE CAN USE OUR VOICES AND ACTIONS TO DO SOMETHING."
"I REGULARLY SPEND TIME OUTSIDE IN NATURE, WHICH HELPS LESSEN NEGATIVE SYMPTOMS FROM THINKING ABOUT CLIMATE INSTABILITY. LEARNING ABOUT EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS ALSO HELPS ME FEEL MORE IN CONTROL AND LESSENS THE NEGATIVE FEELINGS."
"I DON'T WANT TO DIE, BUT I DON'T WANT TO LIVE IN A WORLD THAT DOESN'T CARE FOR CHILDREN AND ANIMALS."