Eco-Anxiety: The Young Generation’s New Mental Health Concern

Eco-Anxiety: The Young Generation’s New Mental Health Concern

Eco-anxiety is not a diagnosable mental health disorder. However, it is impacting many people around the world, especially the younger generation. Learn more below

Eco-anxiety is the new buzzword in the field of mental health. The term has been coined to describe the stress many people are experiencing due to rising environmental concerns in the world they are growing up in. A 2018 academic paper, Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating ClimateTragedy, by Professor Jem Bendell, went viral when it was published and reportedly led many people to seek therapy. Recent images from Australia’s wildfires, of injured wildlife, burnt debris, abandoned homes, and others, have also had an adverse impact on people, especially on younger people. Teenagers are panicking. 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist, Greta Thunberg, has said, “Adults keep saying, we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope, I don’t want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic.”

Eco-anxiety is not a diagnosable mental health disorder but can have a significant impact on the person suffering from it. The American Psychological Association describes eco-anxiety as “a chronic fear of environmental doom.” It is a cause of stress resulting from “watching the slow and seemingly irrevocable impacts of climate change unfold, and worrying about the future for oneself, children, and later generations.”  According to the Assoiciation, some people “are deeply affected by feelings of loss, helplessness and frustration due to their inability to feel like they are making a difference in stopping climate change.” 

Eco-anxiety is not only a concern for those directly affected by a climate-related disaster. It is affecting even those who were previously passive about or ignored climate change issues. Those suffering from eco-anxiety may need to get professional help like they would for any other mental health concern. They can also seek support from their family, friends and the community. They can start being part of the solution by making healthier and eco-friendly choices in their daily lives, and participating in related advocacy campaigns.

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By Ayesha Hoda
Ayesha Hoda is a senior communications professional and writer, currently based in Dubai, UAE.