‘Terrified for my future’: climate crisis takes heavy toll on young people’s mental health

(The Guardian, 30 Mar 2023) Young people in the UK tell how the emergency is affecting their psychological wellbeing and how they are coping

Jem, 24, has started losing sleep over the climate emergency. “Over the last two years, I have felt growing anxiety at the state of the environment. It keeps me up at night,” Jem, who works in nature conservation in Somerset, says. “I worry about what future I should be planning for.”

Jem says it has contributed to them taking medication for their mental health. “I am on antidepressants but I don’t think this is a solution. Things like antidepressants can’t fix things when it’s an external problem. It’s the world we have created that is causing these issues.

“Our mental health is so intrinsically tied to everything around us that we constantly see on the news. Even if you try and tune it out, you’re not going to be able to. It’s so out of our control. I know the science and the stark realities of it. There’s no fix to the anxiety because you know [the climate] is going to get worse.”

Jem is one of scores of young people who shared their distress over the climate emergency with the Guardian. In a recent survey by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), almost three-quarters (73%) of 16- to 24-year-olds reported that the climate crisis was having a negative effect on their mental health, compared with 61% of all people in the UK. The figures were up from 61% and 55% respectively in 2020.

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The Guardian, 30 Mar 2023: ‘Terrified for my future’: climate crisis takes heavy toll on young people’s mental health