It’s not an official diagnosis, but the term “eco-anxiety” has gone mainstream as a way of describing the stress or despair some people feel when it comes to climate change.
And it’s not hard to see why.
Dire assessments about the environment and seemingly non-stop images of natural disasters have permeated our lives near constantly. Sixteen-year-old activist Greta Thunberg captured international attention in September when she was literally moved to tears describing “the beginning of a mass extinction” due to global warming.
THE STRUGGLE IS REAL
A 2017 American Psychological Association study revealed that climate change can affect individual mental health in a variety ways and can lead to stress-related problems from depression to substance abuse. On a macro level, environmental upheaval (i.e. from droughts or flooding) can displace entire communities and lead to long-term feelings of insecurity, powerlessness and fear.
To further understand the real-time impact of climate change on our psyche, look no further than the results of a recent U.S. study that found 20 percent of millennials believe climate change will lead to the end of human civilization in their lifetime.
So, what can be done to overcome eco-anxiety?
TIPS AND STRATEGIES
Being conscious of climate change is important but it's necessary to have coping strategies if your concern becomes too consuming. Here are some solutions for managing climate-related stress.
Lindsay Ross, MSW RSW, is a clinical social worker in private practice in Toronto, Ontario.