WHAT TO KNOW
Climate change and other environmental crises are increasingly affecting families’ mental health. Many parents experience a sense of dread that arises with each frightening new climate headline or gnawing anxiety when we learn about an(other) oncoming hurricane, wildfire, or heat wave—and we know that we are experiencing many more extreme weather events, supercharged by climate change. We may feel profound grief around the loss of beloved places and animal species, rage at the slow pace of climate action, or a sense of powerlessness in the face of a crisis that feels so much bigger than we are.
WHO IS AFFECTED
More and more of us are directly experiencing climate impacts, which can cause stress, trauma, lingering anxiety and depression, and even heightened suicide risk. In 2021, more than 40% of Americans lived in a county that experienced a climate-related extreme weather event. According to the American Public Health Association, up to 50% of people exposed to an extreme weather disaster are at risk of adverse mental health impacts. The impacts of climate change on our mental health are not distributed evenly. Communities of color and low-income communities are often affected first and worst by climate disasters and bear a disproportionate burden of climate distress. Research suggests that women tend to be more worried about climate change than men. And young people, who will be most affected by the climate impacts of the future, are overwhelmingly concerned about climate change: a 2021 study of young people around the world found that 84% were at least moderately worried about climate change, with 59% reporting very or extremely high levels of worry.
PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS
Parents, grandparents, and caregivers may experience these mental health impacts in unique ways. We love the children in our lives and want them to experience safety and well-being. It can be extraordinarily painful to learn about the ways climate change and other forms of environmental threaten the future we want for our children. We worry about how to talk to our kids about climate change, how to help them navigate their own climate distress, and how to help them cultivate resilience in an uncertain future. For parents, these worries accumulate on top of the already-stressful demands of caregiving in a culture where caregiving isn’t valued.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
If you’ve ever felt the mental health impacts of climate change or environmental issues, you are not alone. Climate distress can be deeply painful. And there are more resources than ever to help us learn how to navigate the mental and emotional terrain of living in a changing climate. Read on to learn more about how you can navigate your own experience of “eco-emotions,” how you can support the young people in your lives, how to cultivate climate hope, and more.
A study of young people around the world found that
84% were at least moderately worried about climate change,
with 59% reporting very or extremely high levels of worry.
Download shareable resources about climate change and mental health. Our goal is to educate and empower parents with knowledge. Our materials are vetted by top scientists and public health experts.
Additional Resources by Topic
We’ve compiled information from trusted sources across the web related to specific topics. These lists were last updated in December 2022 and will be kept up-to-date as more information and science emerges.
Moms Talk Mental Health on GMA
Elizabeth Bechard, a mom and our Senior Policy Analyst, tells Good Morning America why acting with others is one of the most important things we can do for our kids, the climate, and our own mental health.