Climate change a rapidly increasing issue for our mental health

Climate change a rapidly increasing issue for our mental health

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) has expressed its support for the School Strike for Climate today, reiterating the emergence of ‘climate distress’ as a growing mental health concern in Australia.

APS President Ros Knight said climate change was having a real impact on our mental health.

“Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century, with research showing that one-in-five Australians have experienced climate-related distress at some time.

“Psychologists are seeing an increasing number of clients who say their concerns about climate change and the future of the planet are having a negative impact on their mental health, including increased depression and anxiety.

Ms Knight said feelings of personal loss, anger, helplessness and guilt are typically associated with climate change and its impact.

“When confronting the topic of climate change, people can swing between denial and doing nothing, to over-involvement and burnout, if they’re not careful.

“Adults should be aware that children are feeling these emotions about climate change as keenly as we are.

“It is important to speak positively with children about climate change, and explain to them that taking actions like walking, catching public transport, talking to others or joining groups can and will make a difference.

“Recognising change takes time and that enjoying life and doing other activities with family and friends is very important.

“Taking part in today’s protest is a very positive step for children and young people in asserting and expressing their views,” she said.

In 2013, the APS signed a statement of commitment developed by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) and the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) to garner support for protecting our children and future generations from climate change.

The APS has established a youth advisory group as part of its focus on climate change.

Psychology Week 2019 will promote what psychology as a science tells us about young people’s feelings, attitudes and beliefs about social justice, with a particular focus on the climate crisis.

The School Strike 4 Climate takes place across Australia on Friday 20 September.

Further reading

Coping with climate change distress

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