Climate Grief: Fears About The Planets Future Weigh On Americans Mental Health
khn.org | July 18, 2019
Therapist Andrew Bryant says the landmark United Nations climate report last October brought a new mental health concern to his patients. I remember being in sessions with folks the next day. They had never mentioned climate change before, and they were like, ‘I keep hearing about this report,’” Bryant said. “Some of them expressed anxious feelings, and we kept talking about it over our next sessions.” The study, conducted by the world’s leading climate scientists, said that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, by 2040 the Earth will warm by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius). Predictions say that increase in temperature will cause extreme weather events, rising sea levels, species extinction and reduced capacity to produce food. Bryant works at North Seattle Therapy & Counseling in Washington state. Recently, he said, he has been seeing patients with anxiety or depression related to climate change and the Earth’s future. Often these patients want to do something to reduce global warming but are overwhelmed and depressed by the scope of the problem and difficulty in finding solutions. And they’re anxious about how the Earth will change over the rest of their or their children’s lifetimes.