I’ve been a climate activist since December 2020. When I started and even now, I’ve seen immediately a very close connection between climate change and mental health. In the past years, I used to be very scared when climate emergencies and natural disasters hit the Earth; even when they had occurred in distant parts of the world I feared that if one day, they happen at the place where I dwell, I’d be worried that fear would be unforgettable in my mind. That was indeed a sign of disturbed mental health.
As I grew up, I have earned more and more about climate change. I learned different facts that show the intensity of climate change and inform about its dangerous consequences. But a few years ago, such worries filled my mind and my mental health was put to the test.
I was seeking a way to help stop climate change and finally, I started advocating for climate justice. Fortunately, dedicating myself to climate activism has helped a lot in my mental health. Whenever I speak, write or take any actions about an issue I care about, I feel satisfied with what I was achieving. This feeling also helps me today to reduce my stress level and increase my serenity. Calm is essential to focus on fighting the climate crisis.
However, I have never experienced what it feels like to be hit hard by climate change and seeing it destroying all your dreams and daily habits.
I have learned in detail about the climate crisis; I have watched and heard about the devastation of natural habitats; I know very well about its causes and consequences. Every summer I feel the temperature of my town increasing more than the year before, but I have never suffered through any climatic calamity. I have never experienced what it feels like to suddenly have your life changed because of this. I might not have experienced all of this, but sadly many people on the planet had. They are completely devastated when any catastrophe comes near their houses. It takes away their dreams and leads them to a huge financial loss. Often, people associate health issues caused by climate change only by a physical side, but as evidence shows, mental health is also highly affected.
As per a report by American Psychiatric Association, people who experience first-hand floodings and prolonged droughts are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic suffering. They have to deal with many post-traumatic experiences such as losing home or job (often both), losing their loved ones, going through serious financial losses, etc.
These traumatic events impact one’s mental health and they sometimes even lead to chronic diseases. Besides this, reports say that higher temperatures and heatwaves are resulting in increased suicidal rates.
The impacts of climate change on mental health are here and they are rapidly increasing. The only way to help this situation is by educating yourself. Nowadays, in many places in the world, climate education is becoming a part of academic curricula. But only a very few climate education programs speak of its impacts on mental health.
When we talk about the impacts of climate change on health, it is thought to regard just the physical aspect, but actually, it is more than that. Looking at the consequences climate change leaves on mental health, we can see how important it is to integrate mental health programs into every climate education curriculum. Students must realize how climate change affects their mental stability. In my opinion, students need to know this, as they are the ones who will have to find solutions to these issues in the future.
Besides, I also think that schools should teach students how to deal with extreme climatic events. Learning the consequences of climate change can affect students’ mental sanity as it can make students feel worried, scared, and uncertain about their future. That’s why students must get guidance in such delicate situations and they must be assured that they have the strength and determination to stop climate change and rebuild their future. Schools should teach students about the impacts climate change has on mental health and how a huge number of people with disturbing mental issues can affect all work systems.
Seeing how climate change impacts mental balance is crucial while finding solutions to this threat. To implement and find the resolutions against climate change, students must know every aspect and perspective of it. This is why learning about mental health is very important in a student’s climate education.
Meet the Author
Gargi Bhavsar is a 13 year old middle school student and climate activist from India. She uses her social media to create awareness about climate change and other issues.
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