Did you know that 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any week in the UK? There can be so many reasons for someone to have anxiety, and it’s great that people are talking about their struggles and experiences with their own mental health. With all of us so connected online sometimes we can feel a little overwhelmed from all areas of life, from having to always be ‘on’ and connected to having a lot of news constantly at our fingertips can be really overwhelming. Recently, Psychiatrists are noting that a lot more of their younger patients are developing ‘Eco-Anxiety’ around the current state of the world.
What is Eco Anxiety?
Researchers came up with the term ‘eco-anxiety’ to describe chronic or severe anxiety related to human’s relationship with the environment. Although it’s not a diagnosed condition, Psychiatrists are noticing a rise in patients coming to them with a huge concern about the state of the planet. In fact, up to half of psychiatrists are saying that their young patients have ‘Eco-Anxiety’.
We are all becoming more aware of what’s going on around the planet – from wildfires in the USA and Australia, to droughts and floods in Africa and India. We know that the planet is warming up, and that we don’t want the warming to go over the 1.5% temperature rise since industrial times. Across social media and news outlets we see scary facts and numbers being thrown around, and images of climate devastation across the globe. All of these factors and reporting can prey on people’s mind and make them worry about what they can do to help stop it and what their (and their children’s) future will look like.
Why are people worrying?
There has been a lot of media coverage around the topic of climate change over the years. But recently there has been a surge due to young activists like Great Thunberg, Dominique Palmer and Mya-Rose Craig as well as the national treasure David Attenborough. Recently there was a large meeting full of world leaders in Glasgow called the COP26. This meeting was to ensure that participating countries were on track to reduce their carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. Some ways that countries are able to reduce their carbon emissions are:
- Phase-out the use of coal.
- Decrease deforestation.
- Speed up the switch to electric vehicles.
- Encourage investment in renewables.
However, after this meeting some people are feeling frustrated that some countries and leaders aren’t meeting their targets or aren’t willing to change in time. This makes people feel even more hopeless that we are running out of time before we warm the planet too much. There have been protests across the world to put pressure on governments to do their bit to stop climate change.
How to help with your eco anxiety
If you are getting worried about the state of the planet, there are a few things you can do to help lower your carbon footprint.
- Get involved in groups in your area – be it beach cleans or activist groups there are plenty of positive groups to tackle climate change in your area.
- Write to your local MP or to the Government – asking for their support in greener energy use.
- Don’t use single use plastic.
- Use more public transport.
- Try more of a plant based diet.
- Don’t buy ‘fast fashion’ – try looking for second hand clothes.
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