How much do you know about eco-anxiety? It’s not an officially recognised mental health problem but, with the climate emergency being covered more frequently in the news, these days the term is being used more often.
For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re looking at eco-anxiety, who it affects and what you can do if you’re experiencing it.
What is eco-anxiety?
Eco-anxiety can be expressed in lots of different ways: eco-trauma, ecological grief, climate change distress and climate anxiety.
Each of these terms relate to feelings of anxiety caused by an awareness and understanding of environmental issues and the need to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis.
Eco-anxiety can come from:
A dread about the state of the world and the future.
Mourning the loss of the natural world and habitats.
Feeling guilty about not doing enough personally to reduce your carbon footprint.
Feelings of frustration at the lack of global action or the pace of change.
Feeling overwhelmed at the scale of the challenge.
Knowledge on the subject is still evolving but recent research shows that eco-anxiety is becoming a more common, global issue that can damage our health in the long-term.
Young people, for example, are having to deal with the longer term impacts of climate change and an uncertain future. A 2020 survey found that 57% of child psychiatrists recognised eco-anxiety in their patients.
How can you look after your mental health?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the climate emergency, there are things you could try that might help: