Understanding Eco-Anxiety: Impact on Mental Health & Coping Strategies
This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @rowanuwellness on social. This story is by Kayden Heinz, a junior Writing Arts major.
Climate change has begun to affect people within our communities in serious ways. People have begun to show symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD due to the stress of climate change, and what that means for our ever changing world. This term has been coined as “eco-anxiety,” and is defined as “a chronic fear of environmental doom.” It is currently not in the DSM-5, which is the resource that lists all mental health conditions. However, it is being recognized within the mental health community. Those most at risk for eco-anxiety are those who are most likely to be affected by climate change, and those who are most aware of the problem.
Rowan University’s School of Earth and Environment is an amazing addition to the University, because it equips students with the knowledge needed to help fight climate change. However, being in a program can get to be taxing on the student’s mental health, due to the topics that are being consistently covered within classes. Since it is something that students are constantly facing, it is important to have coping skills to combat those hard emotions.
One coping strategy that is particularly useful is to surround yourself with likeminded people. This helps to lessen the feeling of loneliness that is accompanied with eco-anxiety. While this can be done off campus, Rowan Environmental Action League is a resource on campus that can be useful. It is a club whose whole purpose is to take steps to fix climate change. There are also many other clubs and organizations within Rowan University that are all about the environment. Another coping mechanism is to take steps to fight climate change, like deciding which companies to support through what you buy as a consumer or deciding to use more reusable products rather than disposable. A third coping strategy is to reach out to a mental health professional. It is important to reach out for help if, and when, you need it.
Dodds, Joseph. “The Psychology of Climate Anxiety.” BJPsych Bulletin, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8499625/.
Written by: Kayden Heinz
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