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Global warming and the climate crisis, alone with the COVID pandemic, are the main current public health issues, and they affect the mental health and emotional wellbeing of people all over the world, as recently demonstrated by research by the
Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation
They also erode individual and community resilience: in the face of the enormous threats our planet is facing, it’s easy to feel distraught and powerless.
The term climate or eco anxiety identifies the particular kind of anxiety that stems from climate change and the sense of dread for the future of the planet, and it can include feelings of anger, worry and frustration that can become overwhelming. Young people especially report feeling debilitated by climate anxiety and being exasperated by the failings of older generations to look after our planet.
The literature shows that:
increased temperature and increased suicides are related;
extreme weather events relate to increase in severe distress;
People who suffer from mental ill health suffer more from the effects of climate change;
Climate change exacerbates mental distress, particularly among young people, even for individuals who are not directly affected.
In the UK surveys conducted in 2019 and 2020 by YouGov and others show that a large around a third of the population were experiencing high levels of stress, worry and anxiety related to climate change.
In Norfolk, the very visible coastal erosion and the effects of extreme weather events particularly affect rural communities along our northern coast, according to Norfolk County Council’s Extreme Weather Report 2018.
As an organisation we are concerned with the impact climate change is having on mental health and wellbeing of people in our communities. Frightening as the future might look, we however know the situation presents opportunities for improvement associated with adaptation and resilience to this global challenge, rather than denial and alarmism.
We particularly looked at the work the Climate Psychology Alliance and the Active Hope Project are doing, and started to connect with them: the result is our new sUSstain project funded by Mind.
If you struggle with climate anxiety, you can try simple ways to develop emotional literacy around this distressing topic and take action, such as:
acknowledge and connect with the difficult emotions the climate emergency provokes;
find reliable sources of information: we can feel bombarded with all sorts of information, but reliable scientific will never scream doom in your face;
access some of the kind, reflective and nourishing practices we suggest in the resources below. In this way you can transform negative and scary feelings creatively, and regain a sense of agency to make changes in our own lives.
These actions, though small, will have a positive impact not only on an individual level, but will ripple out to our community to the connections that sustain, soothe and empower us.
Climate Psychology Alliance
– promotes psychology for understanding and facing climate change and difficult truths – responding to ecological crisis and helping each other engage. They employ the Climate Café model, which is available to everyone, and they are Norfolk and Waveney Mind’s partners in the sUSstain project.
meetings in Norfolk – A community led movement, Climate Café are open, inclusive spaces for people to get together to talk and act on climate change. People can learn more about climate change, connect with others, find support and guidance to start your own
The Conservation Volunteers in Norfolk
- Volunteer groups working with local communities to improve their environment.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust
– Charity working for the protection of the wildlife environment in Norfolk. They manage over 40 natural reserves in the county
Marine Conservation society
– Charity fighting for a cleaner, better protected, healthier ocean: one we can all enjoy. They organise regular BeachCleans on the North Norfolk Coast
- You are not alone – Mental health support for farmers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Worcestershire
- local treeplanting intiatives on farmland
Green Care Network
– our local network of people interested and actively involved in nature and the environment
Nature Connect Service
50 Sale Road
Tel: 0300 330 5488
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