A webinar on “The mental health burden of climate change” featuring Dr. Emma Lawrance, Dr. Britt Wray, Dr. Elaine Flores and chaired by Dr Julian Eaton was held recently as part of London Climate Action Week. The recording is now available here.
If you don’t have time to listen, this series of three blogs will provide some of the highlights:
Dr. Emma Lawrence: “Changing Worlds: You people’s psychological responses to the climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic, their mental health and sense of agency.”
Watch from 38:55 – 50:49
Dr. Emma Lawrence is the Mental Health Innovations Fellow at the Institute of Global Health Innovation. She leads Climate Cares, their climate change and mental health program, and research and innovation in digital mental health support. She is Australian, with qualifications from Flinders University and ANU, as well as Oxford.
Dr. Lawrence described the Climate Cares ‘Changing Worlds’ study, which looked at climate and covid psychological responses in young people in the UK
They found that even in 2020 in the UK, climate change was more distressing for young people than covid. Climate was linked to lots of feelings of guilt, responsibility and lack of control, while covid was more linked to feelings of loss of quality of life and loss/grief.
Young people were more interested in and engaged with climate change, but feeling helpless, afraid and frustrated about both.
More anxious people were more likely to be anxious about both, but even those not anxious in daily life were very anxious about climate change.
This climate anxiety was causing some interference in daily life.
Young people felt less agency with climate than covid. They were less aware of what to do and felt less capable of enacting change.
Interestingly though, higher climate distress was linked to higher agency – the young people who were most anxious about climate were also those most aware of what needs to be done, and how they can act, giving them a greater sense of agency than those less anxious (and presumably less aware/educated).
Climate Cares are now surveying the USA, the Phillippines, Caribbean and India.
They have developed a guided journal as an initial intervention – which will be rolled out with Force of Nature. The journal covers understanding how you feel, taking care of yourself, envisioning a better world and claiming your calling.
Finally, they have also recently launched a briefing paper – “The impact of climate change on mental health and emotional wellbeing: current evidence and implications for policy and practice”. You can download this here: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/grantham/publications/briefing-papers/the-impact-of-climate-change-on-mental-health-and-emotional-wellbeing-current-evidence-and-implications-for-policy-and-practice.php
For more information, see: https://climatecares.co.uk/
Watch the full webinar.