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Dealing with climate anxiety

A study on climate anxiety by the Climate Reality Project Philippines showed that eight of ten young people around the world are extremely worried about climate change.

“Forty-five percent globally reported that their feelings toward the prevailing climate crisis are having negative impacts on daily functioning, which include eating, concentrating on work and school, sleeping, spending time in nature, playing, having fun and dealing with relationships,” the report said.

“In the Philippines, this number went up to a worrying 75 percent, with the report recognizing that young people in the global south are experiencing more severe climate anxiety, which is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a chronic fear of environmental doom,” the group added.

The figures were shared by Caroline Hickman, a psychotherapist and teaching fellow at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom. She is also a board member of the Climate Psychological Alliance, a non-profit organization that aims to address the psychological dimensions of the climate and ecological crisis.

Hickman is the co-author of the study titled “Young People’s Voices on Climate Anxiety, Government Betrayal and Moral Injury: A Global Phenomenon.” It is the first large-scale investigation of climate anxiety in children and young people globally and its relationship to government response.

The group surveyed 10,000 children and young people, aged 16 to 25 years from Australia, Brazil, Finland, France, India, Nigeria, the Philippines, Portugal, UK and USA.

It was noted that the survey results among Filipino youth are particularly sobering.

“71 percent of the respondents think that they won’t have access to the same opportunities that their parents had. 77 percent think that their family’s economic, social and physical security will be threatened. 47 percent are hesitant to have children because of climate change,” Hickman said.

While she said climate anxiety is not a mental illness, the realities of climate change and inadequate global action are chronic, inescapable stressors that will inevitably impact the mental health of children and young people.

The high rate of climate anxiety among Filipino youth is understandable given the vulnerability of their country to extreme weather events and rising ocean levels, coupled with a government that has been content with passing the buck to the first world instead of taking urgent actions that could provide assurance to the youth that their country is contributing solutions that could minimize the potentially destructive impacts to their environment when it is their turn to take over.

Our government that is run by relatively old people should do more to assure the youth that our country is committed to sustainable actions that can mitigate the effects of climate change so the latter will still have something to look forward to.*

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