To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to take a look at a mental health issue that is on the rise – climate anxiety – and the things we can do to combat it, including taking action to counteract climate change!
In the words of Greta Thunberg, 'no-one is too small to make a difference'! You only need to take the first steps...
What is climate anxiety?
Described by the American Psychological Association as the ‘chronic fear of environmental doom’, climate anxiety is part of a wider way in which climate can impact on our mental health.
We are officially in the midst of a climate crisis and that is, naturally, worrying (let's be honest... we'd be concerned if people weren't worried!). This feeling of helplessness linked to perceived inaction and its impact on our surroundings and future is familiar to us all. But for some it can lead to anxiety – more specifically, climate anxiety or eco-anxiety.
Climate anxiety's closest relative is generalised anxiety disorder, but it is said to differ slightly in that there are a range of associated emotions that come along with it:
- Grief for the planet
- Helplessness and disempowerment
And it makes sense! Despite climate emergencies being declared by councils across the UK over a year ago, we still seem to be stuck; we have set targets, made plans, but we have not yet moved forward at the speed we need to in order to reach those targets. We think it's only natural that this plays on our minds.
But there is good news!
Climate psychologists believe 'the cure to climate anxiety is the same as the cure for climate change – action. It is about getting out and doing something that helps.'
And that’s exactly what we see happening every single day in the community energy sphere. We are a network of local groups taking a stand against climate apathy. We step up and do our bit to make our communities more resilient and low carbon, through renewable energy projects, outreach programmes and more.
While as individuals we may feel small, together we can be a real force for good, not just locally, but across our society. It’s important to celebrate the changes we make, no matter how small (or how small we THINK they may be). We are not meant to solve this problem on our own, but it only takes one person to start making a difference.
If you want to take action this Mental Health Awareness Week (or any week!) that will improve your mental wellbeing around climate and introduce you to like-minded people in a thriving, low-carbon local movement, join our CREW here!
To read more about climate anxiety:
A summary: https://www.psychologyoxford.com/climate-project-dr-patrick-kennedy-williams-eco-anxiety
A first-hand account: https://grist.org/article/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-deal-with-climate-change/
More on climate psychologists and support: https://www.climatepsychologists.com
Tips for managing eco-anxiety: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2220561-stressed-about-clim ate-change-eight-tips-for-managing-eco-anxiety/