Ground report | New Delhi: 75% of young people fear; The climate crisis is also a mental health crisis. Anguish over the unstoppable deterioration of nature, or eco-anxiety, is an emerging psychological problem not only among scientists who try to convince every day with data about the need to act against this global emergency but also for a general population that is powerless. in the face of global warming whose magnitude is difficult to encompass. (75% of young people fear)
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75% of young people
Above all, for those younger generations who watch helplessly as time passes without making concrete decisions to save a future that belongs to them but over which they still have no decision-making power.
A reflection that is also impressively consensual among a whole generation according to preliminary results of a study published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, in which more than 10,000 people between the ages of 16 and 25 have been interviewed, 84% of young people are “at least moderately worried” and almost 60% “very or extremely worried” about the future that climate change announces.
The study decisively reinforces the concept of climate distress, which until now had been an increasingly relevant research field in the world of psychology but which still had few quantitative efforts. That is why the efforts of the researchers at the University of Bath are so relevant: 10,000 people in 10 different countries in a significant statistical sample that allows obtaining fairly accurate conclusions about the mental state of youth. And the picture they draw is not good: the fear of a worse life due to climate change is real and negatively affects the daily lives of many people between 16 and 25 years old.
Specifically, beyond the general concern expressed by the majority of those surveyed, it is the subjective feelings that the climate emergency arouses that best explains this generational anguish. 75% feel that the future may be “scary” and more than half said they feel sad, anxious, helpless, helpless, and guilty about the weather, while the least mentioned feelings were optimism and indifference.
Rest of society
In addition, more than 45% said that their feelings about climate change negatively affect their daily life and functioning, while a similar number reported that a large number of negative thoughts about climate change come to mind every day.
It is true that psychologists often consider depression, anxiety and intense pessimism about the future to be pathological phenomena, but the study authors believe that their research shows that the anxiety about climate change is not insane, but even it could be considered a sign of sanity, given the extent and ubiquity of fear of the future among young people. This is an emotionally healthy mental response. The external reality is more and more terrifying, the reason why I would worry that people did not have this answer ”, explained one of the authors of the study, Caroline Hickman, during the presentation of the same last week in a virtual panel.
In other words, the rise of eco-anxiety is not in itself a bad sign about the mental health of young people, since the generalized anguish among those surveyed in the study suggests that, in addition to facing reality, young people have feelings about it. that they are capable of expressing, rather than denying, repressing or diverting. Furthermore, this widespread concern also suggests a high level of empathy with the rest of society and with the world. However, these positive features should not hide the magnitude of the problem, which could create psychological handicaps for an entire generation.
Disappointment with governments
What does seem clear, in addition to the extent of the problem, is that eco-anxiety is not only about the climate crisis itself, but also has an inherently political component. And is that the majority of respondents negatively rated the government and international response to climate change and reported greater feelings of betrayal than tranquility when describing their impressions of global climate action. Specifically, the correlations indicated that climate anxiety and distress were significantly related to a perceived inappropriate government response and even associated feelings of betrayal.
In other words, many young people feel betrayed and disappointed by their government’s inadequate responses to the climate crisis: in fact, the more distressed they were by environmental policies, the more intense their climate anxiety. “The climate crisis itself is a burden that we can handle. What we cannot handle is the inaction of governments everywhere. (75% of young people fear)
It is unacceptable, it is impossible to carry it, knowing that our future is at stake, and our present is at stake, knowing that we will spend each year of life in a growing climate crisis, without any government acting properly, “he explained in the virtual panel the guest Luisa Neubauer, who at 25 is the founder and leader of Fridays for Future in Germany.