Giving Compass' Take:
- Climate anxiety and eco-anxiety impact young people and takes a toll on their mental health, creating barriers to achieving goals.
- What mental health supports can schools offer students experiencing climate anxiety?
- Read how communities are coping with climate anxiety.
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There are signs that soaring temperatures, monster storms and aggressive floods are taking a mental toll on students. An international “climate anxiety” survey of 10,000 teens and young adults found that more than 45 percent of those who responded said “their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning.”
Climate anxiety isn’t a wholly new concept. Google saw a 565 percent increase in searches for the phrase a couple years ago.
Since then, researchers have taken closer looks at what role climate anxiety — also called climate doomism or eco-anxiety — plays in the overall mental health pressures that young people are facing.
A study from the Yale School of Public Health found that climate anxiety is distinct from other mental health conditions like general anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder.
“Responses demonstrated how climate change anxiety can pose a barrier to engaging with goals typically salient in emerging adulthood such as education, career, and family-related goals, which may contribute to a loss of meaning or purpose,” researchers explain in the paper. “This may be of particular concern in the context of an emerging adult population that is already more vulnerable to mental health distress.
Yale researcher and clinical psychologist Sarah Lowe said in an Q&A earlier this year that climate anxiety tends to impact people who are already experiencing symptoms of general anxiety. Overall, Lowe explained, the number of college students who say they’re experiencing climate anxiety is fairly low.
“Our students were in the range of ‘rarely anxious’ to ‘sometimes anxious,’ and that to us was a bit surprising given what we’ve heard from students,” she said in the interview. “But it’s also important to note that the whole range of scale scores was represented in the survey results, so we did have some students who reported frequent or extreme anxiety about climate change.”
Read the full article about climate anxiety by Nadia Tamez-Robledo at EdSurge.