Climate Change and Mental Health: How MFTs Can Help

by | Nov 23, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

“The burning of fossil fuels is killing us,” says the World Health Organization (WHO). “Climate change is the single biggest threat facing humanity.” 

These remarks came in an October 2021 report issued by the WHOThe WHO COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health. And many health professionals see it as a huge step forward for global public health. It’s not only a formal acknowledgement that climate change is real, but that it has already impacted the lives and well-being of millions. 


Worry Over Climate Change Contributes to New Mental Health Issues

Climate grief, eco-anxiety, and eco-grief are all synonymous terms that describe how a majority of today’s young people feel about climate change. It’s more than just fear for the future at this point. A recent poll, published in The Lancet medical journal, interviewed 10,000 people between the ages of 16 and 25, regarding their views on global climate change. And the results were startling. Repeatedly, participants used descriptors such as ‘sad,’ ‘angry,’ ‘scared,’ ‘hurt,’ ‘powerless,’ and ‘depressed’ to relay their feelings. 


More Therapists Needed to Treat Eco-Anxiety

Climate grief has only recently been recognized as a mental health issue. But according to a 2018 study performed at Yale, roughly 70 percent of Americans admitted to being discouraged about the future of the planet because of global warming. And this uncertainty expresses itself in different ways according to the individual. What is clear, however, is that people are feeling stressed about what kind of world awaits their children and grandchildren. Patients affected by climate grief exhibit a range of symptoms, including:

  • Inability to stop reading or listening to the news
  • Persistent imagery of loved ones dying 
  • Fear regarding the futures of their children
  • Preoccupation with thoughts of natural disasters
  • Feelings of anger that the world is being destroyed
  • Overwhelming feelings of helplessness and fear for the future

Therapists and counselors in the field are seeing continuous upticks in the amounts of patients who seek therapy based on eco-anxiety, but not enough are yet fluent in treating the disorder. 


Mental Health Training in Climate Grief Offers Solution

As instances of climate grief continue to grow, an increase in qualified mental health counselors is needed to meet it. Programs such as the Master of Marriage and Family Therapy at Campbellsville University’s Phillips Graduate Institute are a sound solution. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can help patients cope with climate-induced anxiety, call today to speak with an admission representative.